Namibia kicks off preps for World Cup
Windhoek – The Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) has confirmed that the national team will play two test matches against Russia in Windhoek next month – on 11 an 18 July. .
The two matches will be part of the extensive campaign that the rugby union has rolled out to ensure the national team is adequately prepared for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015.
The two matches, NRU chief executive officer Sybrand de Beer said, were arranged after the union approached the World Rugby Union, the world rugby governing body.
“We were looking at teams with profiles similar to those who we will be facing at the Rugby World Cup 2015. Teams with big, physical players, good in the set phases because if we look at teams like New Zealand, Argentina and Georgia, that’s the kind of opposition we can expect,” said de Beer.
According to de Beer, Uruguay, were also approached but they couldn’t accept the invitation but the NRU was able to secure the two test matches against the Russians.
“The Russians are looking forward to the visit very much and we are busy putting the final arrangements in place for their visit.” said de Beer.
The test matches are part of an extensive nine match programme in the build-up to Namibia’s Rugby World Cup campaign in England from September 18 to November 1, 2015.
Namibia and South Africa both from southern Africa are the only two African teams at this year’s tournament. Namibia is in Pool C up against New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, and Georgia while South Africa is drawn in Pool B against Samoa, Japan, the United States of America and Scotland.
The Namibian national rugby team nicknamed Welwistchias kicked off its build up to the World Cup with a 22-14 win over Tunisia last Saturday in an Africa Cup match in Nabeul.
The Tunisia match was in preparation for the country’s defence of the Africa Cup, which the Welwistchias won in Madagascar last year. However the title defence started off on wrong foot following a 30-10 defeat by the Argentina Jaguars on June 12, in Bucharest, Romania.
Namibia will play Spain in the same tournament, before they welcome Russia on July 11, 2015.
Russia narrowly missed out on this year’s Rugby World Cup and in August Namibia will play two more matches at home, against Kenya and Zimbabwe in the Africa Cup respectively.
Russia is currently placed 19th on World Rugby’s rankings with Namibia two places below – at 22.
Namibian Coach Danie Vermeulen welcomed the opportunity to play against stronger opposition in his team’s build-up.
“Russia regularly plays against Romania and Georgia and Georgia is in our pool at the Rugby World Cup and those two test matches against Russia will be of massive value for us.
“We will be playing nine matches before we leave for England and I believe that it would be the best preparations Namibia have ever had going to a Rugby World Cup tournament,” Vermeulen said from Bucharest, at a time when his team was preparing for encounter with the Argentine Jaguars.
Namibia and Russia have only met twice before on the international stage, both matches played in Windhoek, which all ended in victory for the Russians.
In March 1994, Namibia lost 12-31 to the Russians, with the second 30-15 loss coming six years later during a once off test match on January 23, 2010.