Ugly scenes grips NRU two months before World Cup
Windhoek – Namibia’s hopes of winning their first ever match at a rugby World Cup might have been dealt a heavy blow after the country woke up to news last week national team coach, Danie Vermeulen had resigned citing lack of support from Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) as the main reason.
It’s the second resignation by a national gaffer in a matter of days, after Ricardo Mannetti stepped down a fortnight ago after leading the Brave Warriors to their first ever Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup triumph.
But the rugby union on their part dismissed Vermeulen’s assertions, saying that that no other coach before him had received as much support in terms of financial and human resources to qualify and prepare for a Rugby World Cup.
Lack of support according to Vermeulen includes the union’s inability to assist him registering foreign based players who qualify for Namibian citizenship, the lack of a backline coach, NRU’s persistence in interfering with team selection and the controversial appointment of former Wales International Phil Davies as technical advisor and Wayne Proctor as strength and conditioning coach.
Davies was perhaps, unsurprisingly, appointed as the head coach after Vermeulen’s resignation.
“I was shocked in April when I received an email by mistake this year that Phil Davies requested that he and assistant Wayne Procter, as well as assistant director (John Williams) must receive full power to select and prepare the national squad,” said Vermeulen.
NRU boss Sybrand de Beer contends that the email that the former coach is referring to was not sent by mistake.
“The April 2015 email concerning Phil Davies, Wayne Proctor and John Williams, was not sent by mistake to Mr Vermeulen. At the time it was discussed with Mr Vermeulen and he indicated that he understood the context. Again we find it strange that he now raises the issue after it was resolved with him,” De Beer said.
While acknowledging that results for the past two years have not been good for the national team better known as the Welwitschias, NRU said they did place a contingency plan to ensure the team’s preparations and the campaign would not be derailed. Namibia and South Africa will represent Africa at the 8th edition of the 2015 Rugby World Cup scheduled for England from September 18 to October 31.
“Since 2012, the NRU board came under pressure on more than one occasion to replace Vermeulen, but the current members of the board stood by him and refused to bow to the pressure.
“Very recently, some of the board members who resigned last month again called for Vermeulen to be sacked but the president, Bradley Basson, was adamant that it would not happen and that Vermeulen’s contract and obligations would run through to the end of the Rugby World Cup,” said de Beer.
Vermeulen who is wheel-chair bound was also angered by the fact the rugby union couldn’t refund him the whole of N$127 50 0 costs that he incurred when his wheel chair was stolen en-route to Tunisia to play in the Africa Cup.
“Once we were informed of the loss of Mr Vermeulen’s wheelchair we immediately instituted measures for it to be replaced, we requested a quote from Mr Vermeulen and a week later we received a quote for N$100 550.
“After the NRU was told that the insurance did not cover this we went out of our way to assist Mr Vermeulen and secured an ex gratia amount of N$60 000 plus a further N$19,000, a total of $79 000.
“Shortly after we offered this to Mr Vermeulen we received his resignation. The wheelchair was not the property of the NRU and not our responsibility to insure as the onus is on the individual to insure personal property. However, as the wheelchair was lost by the airline while Mr Vermeulen was representing the NRU, we went out of our way to accommodate him,” de Beer said in a statement.
De Beers also said that they strongly refute Vermeulen’s claims that the NRU did not appreciate his value as coach and that it left him with no other option but to resign.
“We feel that is an emotional response and not based on all the facts available.
“The CEO invited Mr Vermeulen via email, as Mr Vermeulen does not answer the calls of the CEO or board members since his resignation, to meet with him and Mr Basson to discuss his reasons for resigning, which was declined.
“The CEO also invited Mr Vermeulen to release a joint press release to give the team and players the best chance of results in the upcoming test matches and the RWC.
“Mr Vermeulen however replied by stating that his press release will be issued and ‘good luck with the damage control’. We bemoan the fact that Mr Vermeulen placed his allegations in the media in this manner. We wish Mr Vermeulen all the best for his future endeavours and wish the team well in their final preparations prior to the RWC (Rugby World Cup).”
It’s safe to say that such a misfortune costs the Welwitschias dearly at the Nations Cup in Romania last month when they lost all their three games to Spain, Romania and Argentina Jaguars.
The country will soon find out the extent of the damages for the Rugby World Cup preparations when the Welwitschias take on Russia twice this month at home, followed by Kenya and Zimbabwe next month.