Tough Task Ahead for Welwitschias

The Welwitschias returned home this week after having lost all three their matches on their European tour.

These results, as well as other November international matches involving second tier rugby nations indicated how g the competition has become and how tough it will be for Namibia at the Rugby World Cup next year.

Fielding a full strength side, Namibia lost their first match 17-13 against Canada, with captain Jacques Burger scoring their only try.

That was Namibia’s best performance of the tour, against a Canadian team ranked 18th in the world, compared to Namibia’s 22nd place on the world rankings.

On November 14 Namibia lost 35-14 to a French Barbarians team, with PJ van Lill and Theuns Kotze scoring their only tries and the following week they lost 29-20 against Portugal, with Thorsten van Jaarsveld and Johan Tromp scoring Namibia’s tries.

Against Portugal, Namibia were not at their gest, with Burger having returned to Saracens, while fullback Chrysander Botha broke his leg against Canada, but the result was disconcerting, coming against a team that will not even be at the World Cup.

That result also saw Portugal replacing Namibia at 22 on the World Rugby rankings, while Namibia moved down to 23rd place.

Canada, meanwhile, went on to lose their other two November internationals against higher ranked opponents. On 15 November they lost 24-13 against Samoa, ranked 10th in the world, and a week later they lost 18-9 against Romania who are ranked 17th in the world.

Romania, in turn, lost 27-17 at home to the 16th-ranked United States, who also gave a good performance against the 12th-ranked Fiji, before losing a close contest 20-14.

The United States however struggled against 13th-ranked Tonga, losing 40-18, while they were thrashed 74-6 by world champions New Zealand in Chicago last month.

Namibia will face New Zealand in their opening match at the Rugby World Cup on 24 September next year while they will also meet Tonga in their Pool C group match.

Namibia will also face Georgia in a Pool C group match and they will be targeting this match to register their first ever victory at the Rugby World Cup after four previous unsuccessful campaigns in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Georgia, who are ranked 15th in the world, however, also produced some g performances on their European tour.

On November 8 they lost 23-9 at home to Tonga, and the following week they held third-ranked Ireland to a 9-0 halftime deficit, before eventually losing 47-7.

On November 23, Georgia however outplayed the 11th-ranked Japan in Tbilisi, winning 35-24, with only a late flurry by Japan making the scoreline respectable.

Flanker Rohan Kitshoff, who captained Namibia against Portugal, said the tour was a wake up call for Namibia, with the World Cup now just 10 months away.

“We have a lot of work to do, we can’t afford to play like this at the World Cup and expect to do well. We must go back to the drawing board, take a long and serious look at ourselves before we start preparing for our opening match against New Zealand on the 24th of September next year. ”

Stand-in coach Henry Kemp echoed his sentiments.

“We were not good enough tonight and will really have to work hard when we return to Namibia. Although there were some positive aspects from the tour we at least should have beaten Portugal who will not be at the World Cup and we are very disappointed with ourselves.”

Source : The Namibian