|Photo Rugby World Cup|
South west African country Namibia has underlined itself as Africa's second best rugby playing nation as it has secured qualification for a fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup by winning the 2014 Africa Cup in Antananarivo with a comprehensive 89-10 victory over Madagascar. The result means that Namibia is Africa 1 and will face Argentina, Georgia, New Zealand and Tonga in Pool C of Rugby World Cup 2015. It also means that Rugby World Cup 2015 is going to be the first ever tournament in which there is not a debuting competing country, that is unless Hong Kong can overcome Uruguay and then defeat the winner of Russia v Zimbabwe.
Having lost against Kenya in the opening round match Namibia required nothing less than two big wins over both Zimbabwe and Madagascar and also required Zimbabwe to defeat Kenya. The unlikely scenario indeed came to be so today as Namibia qualified for Rugby World Cup 2015 and Kenya joined Madagascar in being eliminated.
The day began with Kenya failing to impress. The 27-10 loss against Zimbabwe meant that Namibia would qualify as Africa 1 if it were to defeat Madagascar by 53 points and collect a bonus point. Kenya's impressive results over Namibia and Madagascar in earlier rounds had the east Africans in pole position to win the 2014 Africa Cup but in losing to Zimbabwe and collecting no competition points Kenya remained on ten points, tied with Zimbabwe who went into first place after completing the win but scoring three rather than four tries.
Zimbabwe had thus given itself a strong opportunity of returning to a Rugby World Cup. Having played in Rugby World Cups 1987 and 1991 Zimbabwe missed out on subsequent tournaments with the Cote d'Ivoire qualifying in 1995 and Namibia qualifying for every tournament thereafter. A possible return does still does exist as Zimbabwe will enter repercharge as Africa 2.
Zimbabwe is to face Russia on August 2 in Siberia. In what is going to be a rare home match for Russia in the region the city of Krasnoyarsk will play host to amust win elimination match with the winning team advancing to the Final Place Play-Off Final to be played in October in a home and away series against either Uruguay or Hong Kong who also face-off in August.
A win for Zimbabwe would therefore set up the possibiity of Africa having three participants at a Rugby World Cup for the first time. South Africa is to play in Pool B against Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the USA. In defeating Madagascar today Namibia will play in Pool C thus playing against Argentina and Georgia as was the case in Rugby World Cup 2007. Namibia wll also face Tonga and New Zealand, tough matches for a country looking to win a first ever Rugby World Cup match.
Scheduling from tournament organizers has not helped Namibia's cause. The organizing committee has given Namibia a more demanding list of dates to play four pool matches than the strongest teams in the pool. Indeed New Zealand and Argentina will both have more days than Namibia as will Tonga. Namibia will face the All Blacks for the first time ever on September 24 in its opening fixture and then back-up against Tonga on September 29. The third and fourth pool matches will be on October 7 and 11 against Georgia and Argentina, a recovery time of just three days.
|19/09 - 12:00||Tonga||-||Georgia||Kingsholm|
|20/09 - 16:45||New Zealand||-||Argentina||Wembley Stadium|
|24/09 - 20:00||New Zealand||-||Namibia||Olympic Stadium|
|25/09 - 16:45||Argentina||-||Georgia||Kingsholm|
|29/09 - 16:45||Tonga||-||Namibia||Sandy Park|
|02/10 - 20:00||New Zealand||-||Georgia||Millennium Stadium|
|04/10 - 14:30||Argentina||-||Tonga||Leicester City Stadium|
|07/10 - 20:00||Namibia||-||Georgia||Sandy Park|
|09/10 - 20:00||New Zealand||-||Tonga||St James Park|
|11/10 - 12:00||Argentina||-||Namibia||Leicester City Stadium|