Sunday, October 5, 2014

RWC 2015: Total Rugby Profile Namibia ahead of World Cup

Photo: Star Africa
Earlier this year Namibia secured qualification for a fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup with wins over Madagascar and Zimbabwe in the Africa Cup. Having lost against Kenya in the opening round Namibia dug deep and also needed Zimbabwe to defeat Kenya to enable Namibia's qualification to be possible. In qualifying Namibia are to face Argentina for a third time in Rugby World Cups. As was the case in previous tournaments in Europe in 1999 and 2007 Los Pumas will take on Africa's second best side. The matches between Argentina and Namibia is to be played in the rugby stronghold of Leicester on the final day of pool play. 

Nicknamed the Welwitschias or Biltongbere Namibia holds a less than ideal record at Rugby World Cups of playing fifteen matches for a return of fifteen losses. Not only has the team been unable to win but it has, overall, been badly beaten more often than not with teams ranging from Australia to Canada having achieved their best results against the Africans.

Yet while Namibia is yet to win a match at a World Cup organizers have played their part by giving Namibia unfavorable dates lacking adequate rest time between matches. The dates are to complicate rather than aid the possibility of Namibia winning a match at the tournament.

The questionable scheduling is to continue in England 2015 with Namibia having been allocated some extremely questionable dates by authorities. Namibia will play its opening match on September 24 against New Zealand and then go up against Tonga on September 29. With just four days in between it is likely that the match against the World Champion All Blacks will not feature the strongest Namibian side. 

The physicality and level of Tonga also suggests firmly that a choice will be made to prioritize the second of the two opening fixtures. Namibia's third match is to be played against another physical side, Georgia, and will take place on October 7 some four days before facing Los Pumas. A limited number of just three rest days will see Namibia pushed to the limit and unable to field leading players and get the best out of them in both matches.

In Rugby World Cup 2003 Namibia had four days between facing Argentina and Ireland and also four between taking on Australia and Romania. Of note is that Namibia's 142-0 loss against the Wallabies is a Rugby World Cup record. The scheduling for 2015 now gives the All Blacks an opportunity to overtake it. 

An improved Namibia started Rugby World Cup 2007 strongly against Ireland but had tough dates for its final two matches with just three rest days between facing Argentina and Georgia. Namibia was unable to play to the same standard as was the case against the Irish. Similarly, in 2011 organizers had Namibia facing Fiji and Samoa with only three rest days and also playing South Africa and Wales with just three days to recover between the fixtures. 

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