Gone are the days when Namibian rugby would play second fiddle to big brother South Africa, and gone are the days when the now rejuvenated Welwitschias would just be content with making up numbers in the highly competitive South African Provincial Currie Cup.
Following the Namibians’ much improved showing at last year’s International Rugby Board (IRB) World Cup in Great Britain – Namibian rugby has been thrown another lifeline by being included in the revamped Currie Cup, replacing the less prestigious Vodacom Cup.
The Welwitschias’ much anticipated return to the more lucrative Currie Cup competition sees the Namibian part-timers engaged in marathon matches over six months, which are set to kick-start on April 9 and will last until the first week of October.
Namibia has been thrown into the lion’s den and will rub shoulders with strong South African provincial Super Rugby franchises that will include old foes Western Province, Blue Bulls, Free State Cheetahs, Sharks, Golden Lions and EP Kings, among South Africa’s rugby heavyweights.
The 15-team competition will be played over a marathon 166 games.
Upon completion of the first round, teams will be divided into two groups, the Premier and Division One with the sextet of the SA franchises earning automatic promotion to the Elite Division – leaving Namibia with the task of having to finish among the top three of the non-franchise competitors from the opening round.
Meanwhile, the Welwitschias are yet to announce the identity of their new mentor following the surprise departure of Henry Kemp. The latter developed itchy feet after the ambitious Windhoek High School (WHS) had dangled a juicy carrot for him to take up the coaching reins at the learning institution.