Rugby union in Namibia

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Rugby union in Namibia
Namibia Rugby Team.jpg
Namibia Rugby Team 7s team warming up at the Telstra Dome
CountryNamibia
Governing bodyNamibia Rugby Union
National team(s) Namibia
Nickname(s)Welwitschias
First played1916
Registered players9317 [1]
Clubs28
National competitions
Club competitions

Rugby union in Namibia is a popular team sport in Namibia and its predecessor province of South West Africa. Because Namibia was formerly ruled by South Africa, rugby in Namibia was frequently influenced by events in that country and its domestic competition.

Contents

Governing body

The Namibia Rugby Union is the governing body for rugby union in Namibia. The organisation was formed in March 1990, the same month that it joined the International Rugby Board (IRB). [2]

Before independence in 1990, the governing body was the South African Rugby Board. [2] Earlier bodies operating in South West Africa, from 1916 to 1990 were the South Africa Rugby Football Board (for whites only) founded in 1889 and the South Africa Coloured Rugby Board, founded in 1896.

History

Pre-independence

In 1915, during World War I, South Africa, being a member of the British Commonwealth and a former British colony, occupied the German colony of South West Africa, later to be known as Namibia.

It is believed that Namibian rugby began in 1916 when it was introduced by migrants from South Africa. Because of this, and the fact that Namibia was ruled by South Africa for so long, it can therefore be considered one of several countries within South African rugby's sphere of influence – including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Botswana.

The British and Irish Lions played games in South West Africa on several occasions – in 1962, 1968, 1974, and 1980. Because South West Africa was part of the South African polity, this meant that rugby there was tainted with the image of apartheid, and moreover, the independence of Namibia coincided with the period in which the Lions did not tour Africa, due to the controversy connected with this. When the Lions tours to SA resumed in 1997, they no longer played games against other African sides, as previously occurred.

From 1966 to 1988, the Namibian War of Independence was in full swing with guerillas from the nationalist South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) and others fighting South African rule.

Post-independence

Namibia came to international attention in 1991, when they beat the Italian side and defeated the touring Irish in two tests. [3] Phil Matthews' team was beaten 15-6 in the first test, and 26-15 in a match just two months before they started their 1991 Rugby World Cup campaign. [3] For the Irish to be caught unawares was hardly surprising – Namibia had previously languished in the B Division of South Africa's Currie Cup, and only pulled away to become an independent nation in the 1980s. [4] After independence, Namibia had to mostly make do with games against Zimbabwe, most of which they won. [4]

This did not, however, mean a total cessation of international tours to Namibia; for example, Ireland toured Namibia in 1991.

Namibian rugby still bears some similarities to its South African counterpart, using an aggressive, fast-moving game, ideal for their arid conditions. [4] There have been some attempts to remedy this, and the conscious effort to bring in black players has included caps for the likes of Eden Meyer. [4] Big hard forwards such as Johann Barnard are complemented by fast running backs such as Henning Snyman, Gerhard Mans and Andre Snoop (who now plays rugby league in England). [4] It remains to be seen if Namibia can shake off image as a South African satellite.

John Robbie, former captain of Ireland and the British Lions paid tribute to Namibia, saying,

Namibia could never be fancied to win the Currie Cup against big sides such as the Transvaal and Western Province, but none of the top side ever travel to Windhoek expecting anything but the hardest of matches. [4]

The first major hitch in Namibia's rugby ambitions came in the qualifiers for the 1995 Rugby World Cup when they were beaten 13-12 by Côte d'Ivoire, and drew 16-16 with Morocco, which prevented them from entering the tournament. [4] [5] Namibia had rested several key players against Côte d'Ivoire in this game. [5] However, more recently Namibia have been the consistent representatives of Africa beyond South Africa itself.

Present

As in South Africa, the sport is most popular among Afrikaans speakers, but is also enjoyed by many English-speaking white Namibians. The sport is popular among school children, but the rugby union–playing population in Namibia is still relatively small with only 19 clubs and around 8,192 registered senior players as of 1990. [6]

As a vast, sparsely populated country, with little infrastructure, players frequently have to travel huge distances to games. [4] This is a common problem in many African countries, but one Namibia has dealt with better than most. Another unusual feature of Namibian rugby is a high proportion of evangelical Christians, who often hold prayer meetings before matches and sometimes refuse to play on Sundays. [4]

National team

Percy Montgomery, born in Walvis Bay, playing for the Springboks. Percy Montgomery.JPG
Percy Montgomery, born in Walvis Bay, playing for the Springboks.

The Namibian national team are commonly known as the Welwitschias.

Until independence, players for Namibia were also eligible to represent South Africa; Namibian-born Springboks included Jan Ellis and Percy Montgomery (although in the latter case, his birthplace Walvis Bay was an exclave of South Africa until 1994). Various players pursue their rugby careers in South Africa and in a number of European countries. Frik du Preez, the South African player, also lived in the former South West Africa for a while.

Namibia's players are notable for their other professions. For example:

Domestic competitions

Currie Cup

The Currie Cup tournament is South Africa's premier domestic rugby union competition, featuring teams representing either entire provinces or substantial regions within provinces. Before Namibia gained its independence in 1990, the team, as South West Africa, played in South Africa's Currie Cup competition. Their best result was in 1988, when they finished third. They won the B section Currie Cup in 1987, beating Western Transvaal.

South African competitions

A Namibian team called the Welwitschias also participated in several seasons of South African domestic rugby. It entered the Vodacom Cup in 2010, 2011 and 2015. The Vodacom Cup is a second-tier competition primarily used for developmental purposes, which runs alongside the Super Rugby season and involves all 14 South African provincial unions, with some invitational teams from other countries, such as the Pampas XV from Argentina and Simba XV from Kenya. [10]

After the demise of the competition after the 2015 season, the Welwitschias participated in the First Division of the Currie Cup competition, as well as the replacement competition for the Vodacom Cup, the Rugby Challenge, launched in 2017. However, prior to the 2018 Currie Cup First Division, a lot of teams were struggling financially. The Welwitschias were informed that they would have to pay the travel costs for teams travelling to games in Windhoek, but — after initial reports indicated that they raised the money with the help of World Rugby [11] — they could not raise the required funds and announced their withdrawal from the competition. [12]

MTC Premier League

The MTC Premier League is Namibia's national rugby league and is contested by eleven sides from all over Namibia. The current MTC Premier League teams for the 2016 season are:

International competitions

Rugby World Cup

Namibia has made the World Cup on five occasions, in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015, but has never won a game. [13] In August 2018, the Welwitchias qualified for their sixth Rugby World Cup by defeating Kenya 53-28 in Windhoek. They are slated to compete in Pool B for the 2019 World Cup in Japan. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Namibia national rugby union team

The Namibia national rugby union team represents Namibia in men's international rugby union competitions nicknamed the Welwitschias, are a tier-two nation in the World Rugby tier system, and have participated in five Rugby World Cup competitions since their first appearance in 1999. They are governed by the Namibia Rugby Union.

Vodacom Cup

The Vodacom Cup was an annual rugby union competition in South Africa. Annual Vodacom Cup competitions were played between its inaugural season in 1998 and 2015 and was contested between February and May each year. Mobile communications provider Vodacom was the title sponsor for the entire duration of the competition.

Eugene Jantjies

Eugene Jantjies is a Namibian rugby union scrum-half, currently playing for the Welwitschias.

The 2015 Vodacom Cup was contested from 6 March to 30 May 2015. The tournament was the 18th edition of the Vodacom Cup, an annual domestic South African rugby union competition, and was played between the fourteen provincial teams in South Africa, as well as the Limpopo Blue Bulls and Namibian side Welwitschias.

Aranos Coetzee Namibian rugby union player

Johannes Voges 'Aranos' Coetzee is a Namibian rugby union player for the Cheetahs in the Pro14 and the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup. His regular position is prop.

Daniel David Kriel is a South African rugby union player for the Lions in Super Rugby and Golden Lions in the Currie Cup and in the Rugby Challenge. His regular position is centre.

The 2016 Currie Cup qualification series was a South African rugby union competition organised by the South African Rugby Union which was played between 9 April and 23 July 2016. It featured all fourteen South African provincial unions plus the Welwitschias from Namibia and served as a qualifying competition for the 2016 Currie Cup, the 78th edition of South Africa's premier domestic rugby union competition. Nine teams from this competition advanced to the 2016 Currie Cup Premier Division, while the remaining six teams progressed to the 2016 Currie Cup First Division.

Welwitschias

The Welwitschias, currently known as the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias due to sponsorship by Namibia Breweries Limited, are a Namibian rugby union team that often participates in South African domestic competitions. As of 2016, they are regular participants in the annual Currie Cup tournament, having previously played in the Vodacom Cup competition.

Ramone Christie Samuels is a South African rugby union player for the Stormers in Super Rugby and Western Province in the Currie Cup. He can play as a flanker, number eight or hooker.

Shaun Reynolds is a South African rugby union player for the Lions in Super Rugby, the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup and the Golden Lions XV in the Rugby Challenge. His regular position is fly-half.

Jade Kyle Stighling is a South African rugby union player for the Bulls in Super Rugby, the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Blue Bulls XV in the Rugby Challenge. He usually plays as a left or right winger and occasionally as an outside centre.

Ruan Ludick is a Namibian rugby union player, currently playing with the Namibia national team and the Welwitschias in South African domestic rugby. His regular position is lock.

Justin Alastair Nel is a Namibian rugby union player for the Namibia national team and the Welwitschias in the Currie Cup and the Rugby Challenge. His regular position is fullback.

Divan Rossouw is a Namibian rugby union player, currently playing in South Africa for the Bulls in Super Rugby, the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Blue Bulls XV in the Rugby Challenge. He is a utility back that can play as a fullback, winger, centre or scrum-half.

Malcolm Edwin Moore is a Namibian rugby union player, currently playing with the Namibia national team and the Welwitschias in the South African Currie Cup competition. He usually plays as a winger.

Arthur Christo Bouwer is a South African-born Namibian rugby union player, that played international rugby for the Namibia national team between 2012 and 2016. He also played for the Welwitschias in the South African Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup competitions. He usually played as a scrum-half.

Egon Ryan Seconds is a former South African rugby union player that usually played as a winger. He represented the Stormers in Super Rugby in 2003 and 2007, and domestically played for Western Province between 2001 and 2007 and for Griquas in 2008. He was selected to represent South Africa 'A' in 2004 and also appeared in ten tournaments for the South Africa Sevens team, winning a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Rugby Challenge (South Africa)

The Rugby Challenge – known as the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for sponsorship reasons – is the secondary domestic rugby union competition in South Africa. The competition is organised by the South African Rugby Union and featured all fourteen South African provincial unions plus Namibian side the Welwitschias and the Zimbabwe Academy. The inaugural season of the competition was in 2017, set up as the long-term successor of the Vodacom Cup competition.

Daniël Rudolf van Vuuren is a Namibian rugby union player for the Welwitschias in the Currie Cup and the Rugby Challenge. His regular position is hooker.

The 2019 Rugby Challenge – known as the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for sponsorship reasons – was the 2019 season of the Rugby Challenge, the secondary domestic rugby union competition in South Africa. It was the third edition of the competition organised by the South African Rugby Union and was played between 27 April and 22 June 2019. There were sixteen teams participating in the competition; the fourteen provincial unions, plus Namibian side the Welwitschias and the Zimbabwe Academy. These teams were divided into two sections, with eight teams playing in each of the North Section and the South Section.

References

  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-09-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. 1 2 Bath (1997) , p. 71
  3. 1 2 Bath (1997) , pp. 71, 72
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Bath (1997) , p. 72
  5. 1 2 Richards (1997) , p. 279
  6. World Rugby (2016). "Global Rugby Participation" . Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  7. 1 2 Richards (1997) , p. 271
  8. The ten greatest sporting all-rounders - Guardian Unlimited
  9. Player statistics
  10. "Argentina and Namibia to play in Vodacom Cup". South African Rugby Union. 2009-12-10. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  11. "Currie Cup finally gets underway". The Namibian. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  12. "Welwitschias withdraw from Currie Cup First Division" (Press release). South African Rugby Union. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  13. Meagher, Gerard (18 September 2015). "Rugby World Cup 2015 power rankings: New Zealand on top at kick-off". The Guardian sport blog.
  14. "Namibia qualify for 2019 RWC, join Boks in Pool B". Sport24.com. 2018-08-18. Retrieved 2019-01-08.

Further reading