The dust refuses to settle in an ugly spat that could have potentially far-reaching repercussions for undisputed Namibian rugby champions University of Namibia (Unam) and the country’s rugby governing body, the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU).
At the centre of the storm is the NRU’s resolve to name Wanderers as Namibia’s sole representatives in the maiden edition of the prestigious South African Rugby Union (SARU) Gold Cup tournament for provincial club champions.
The marathon tourney pits all South African provincial club champions against each other, including the champions of sister countries Namibia and Zimbabwe in a mini-league format by which the boys are separated from the men.
However, the Clever Boys are fuming, and rightly so. They feel that as incumbent Namibian champions they should be allowed into the mix of things to represent their native land, as the legitimate champions by virtue of having won the coveted league title twice in a row.
The NRU stands accused of having deliberately misled SARU on the actual status of Unam within the domestic rugby setup in the absence of an organised university rugby league, as opposed to the structures in South Africa.
The rules of the competition prohibit university teams from participation, but Unam RC argues that in the absence of a university league in Namibia, they should be exempted, because that structure is not applicable here.
Unam wants SARU to consider their dilemma and allow them to take their rightful place in the tourney as the reigning Namibian rugby champions.
In a last ditch effort to be heard, Unam RC have filed an official complaint with the country’s sports presiding body, the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for swift intervention.
NSC chief administrator Walter Haseb confirmed receiving the letter of grievance. He said both parties would be summoned in due course to an emergency meeting to present their cases before a final decision is taken.
“We have been alerted of Unam’s displeasure, but would first want to take a thorough look at the merits of the matter by listening to both parties, Unam and the NRU, and hopefully reach an amicable solution soon.”
To add fuel to the fire, NRU has reportedly submitted a request to SARU to have Wanderers exempted from certain requirements dealing with transformation that require participating teams to include at least four players of colour, with three in the starting line-up in their respective teams.
To compound matters, NRU has also summoned Unam’s coach Johan Diergaardt to a disciplinary hearing for apparently bringing the game of rugby into disrepute.
Diergaardt stands accused of having aired his displeasure at his team’s omission from the Gold Cup through a South African radio station, something that did no go well with the powers that be at Lichtenstein Strasse.
Action in the Gold Cup gets underway this week, with Namibia’s representatives scheduled to go up against Golden Lions champions Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg on Friday.
The NSC is widely expected to pronounce itself this week on Unam’s objection to being excluded from the prestigious rugby tournament.