Plans to revive Namibian rugby

Namibian rugby has seen a nose-dive ever since the national team lifted the African Cup two years ago and the chairman of the Western Suburbs Rugby Club, Keith Allies, says his club will not let the sport go to the dogs. Allies said his club had recently conducted the national club championships, where all the 13 regions in the country were represented by several clubs and, despite his club falling 6-3 in the final to United Rugby Club, Suburbs were happy with the participation of other clubs.

“We managed to identify talent in Namibia and now we are working with the NRU to prepare for the 2007 World Cup qualifying matches against Tunisia and Kenya,” said Allies.

Western Suburbs has spotted 15 “quality players” from the recent tournament and the players will now form the Western Suburbs Barbarians who will play against the national team that lost 24-7 to Tunisia last June.

“Here players have a chance to play in the jerseys of the national team because there has never been any similar competition,” noted the Suburbs chairman.

Namibia’s rugby national team, The Welwitchias, complicated their situation by losing to Tunisia in the World Cup qualifier. The team is scheduled to face Kenya on 2 September in Nairobi, before hosting Tunisia on 30 September.

“The national team still has enough time to prepare and we are going to assist in capacity building,” said Allies.

The 28-year-old Windhoek club will be hosting another regional Under-21 tournament, where the best players will be selected to play Botswana’s Under-21 before the Tunisia encounter.

“The NRU cannot do everything; we as clubs are part of the national team and as Suburbs we are also targeting making this U-21 tournament a feeder to the national team. We do not have an under-21 league like they have in other countries, but we have the youngsters. Namibian rugby is on a rebuilding path and everyone needs to come on board with whatever they have.”

Western Suburbs are also the architects of the Windhoek Lager Rugby Club regional championship, where they provide transport allowances for clubs to take part the competition. The chairman of Western Suburbs has, however, lashed out at certain detractors who turn down invitations to attend these tournaments “without valid reasons”.

Allies shrugs off the idea that his club has a lot of sponsorship and maintains that it is the administration part of the club that makes it successful. With the average Western Suburbs player being 23 years old, the club takes pride in being the only club cherishing a vast cultural diversity.

August 2006
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