WINDHOEK – Namibia’s senior rugby team, the Welwitschias as the team is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, walloped a hapless Tunisia by a record 118-0 in this year’s Rugby Africa Gold Cup match at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
Africa’s flagship rugby competition also serves as qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. This was Namibia’s second win in the continental competition following their impressive 55-6 victory over the Cranes of Uganda at the same venue just a week ago.
The one-sided clash saw the visitors failing to threaten the well-greased hosts’ rearguard. Namibia hit the ground running, crossing the whitewash with only two minutes gone on the clock.
Lesley Klim opened the floodgates with fly-half Cliven Loubser duly returning the compliment from the resultant conversion to make it 7-0.
Soon afterwards, inspirational Johan Deysel registered his name on the score sheet to stretch Namibia’s lead to 12-0 before another converted try made the score 12-0 within 10 minutes.
Klim completed his brace of tries and once again the educated boot of Loubser did the trick to put the hosts firmly in the driving seat 21-0 with only 14 minutes gone on the clock.
The clearly out-of-sorts visitors were presented a golden chance to register some points on the scoreboard via a penalty in the 19th minute, but Khalifa Nesemeddine misdirected his kick.
Veteran fullback Chrysander Botha made his presence felt when he dotted down that saw Loubser fail to goal the try.
However, the fired-up hosts were not resting on their laurels with man of the match Maharua Katjiteo leading a try fest, joined by Wian Condradie and Johann Greyling, leaving the hosts in total control of proceedings going into the changeover with an unassailable lead of 52-0.
After the resumption, the hosts started from where they left off, visiting the whitewash no fewer than 10 times, courtesy of Greyling (3), Botha (2), Klim (2) and late entrant Peter-Jan van Lill, Damien Stevens and Johan Tromp all scoring a try apiece.
With the contest all but sealed, the hosts could afford to miss two conversions of the 18 tries scored against the bemused northern Africans.
Namibia has won the prestigious Rugby Africa Gold Cup four times in succession and judging by their performance on Saturday they look certain to qualify for the 2019 World Cup finals in Japan.
Welwitschias mentor Phil Davies expressed satisfaction with his charges’ ambitions and fighting spirit.
“They played well in the second half with a flowing passing game. I’m still in the process of building a competitive team as most of these players are still very young,” he said delightedly.
Namibian captain Deysel was equally happy with the performance, adding that his team missed a few passes in the first half but were able to rectify those mistakes in the second half.
Beaten skipper Ahmed Nasri was gracious in defeat, saying even though they knew their opponents were strong opposition, they did not expect the margin of the scoreline to be that big.
“We did not have the best match – our preparations were marred by injuries and difficult travels to Windhoek. Our first team players are also absent as they have contracts with overseas teams,” he explained.
Chairman of World Rugby’s African association Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja, applauded the Namibian team for their second convincing home win.
“I also wish to commend the Tunisian team for their valiant effort and wish both teams the best for their remaining matches.”
Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, founder and CEO of APO Group, the main official partner of Rugby Africa, also joined the chorus in showering praises on Namibia’s near faultless performance.
“It seems Namibia is very much in the driving seat to qualify to their sixth consecutive Rugby World Cup and this makes the decisive between Namibia and Morocco on June 30 very interesting.”
Namibia tops the log standings with 10 points going into the penultimate clash away from home on Saturday, June 30, and travel to neighbouring Zimbabwe on August 4 before concluding their assignment with a home match against Kenya on August 18. – Additional reporting: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa