Welwitschias embark on 2019 World Cup mission

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Rugby Union - Namibia v Georgia - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C - Sandy Park, Exeter, England - 7/10/15 Georgia's Mamuka Gorgodze in action with Namibia's Tjuee Uanivi (L) and Eugene Jantjies Action Images via Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic

Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-With two-time world champions South Africa having already qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Namibia will this weekend be out gunning for the remaining spot as the next and only other African World Cup qualifier.

Namibia’s senior rugby side, the Welwitschias, will today leave for Monastir, Tunisia to compete in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup starting this Saturday. The competition serves as Africa’s qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.

Namibia, who have dominated the competition and are the reigning champions, having won the Gold Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2016, will take on Tunisia on Saturday in the opening match of the Gold Cup this weekend, while Kenya host Uganda in Nairobi and Senegal entertain Zimbabwe in Dakar, both also on Saturday.

The qualifying competition doubles up as the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, and features Namibia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Namibia, who are a tier-two nation in the World Rugby tier system and have participated in five World Cups since their first appearance in 1999, are hot favourites to qualify again.

The Rugby Africa Gold Cup will be played on a round robin basis until August 5, with the winner not only being crowned Gold Cup winners but also qualifying for the World Cup.
Namibia, with several of their players turning out for Super Rugby teams based in South Africa, are ranked 20th in the world and will be hard to beat.

Kenya, at 23 in the rankings, will be their toughest opponents. They will face each other in the last round, on July 29, in Windhoek.

Namibia coach Phil Davis will work closely with former Wales teammate Lyn Jones during the coming campaign as the latter has been involved in guiding the Welwitschias in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge competition in South Africa.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup takes place in Japan from September 20 to November 2 and will be played across 12 venues. – Additional info: www.africanindy.com

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