Rugby World Cup: Namibia craving first victory

2:08 pm on 18 September 2015

Rank outsiders Namibia are going to the Rugby World Cup in England hoping for a first victory after 15 consecutive losses in four successive previous appearances.

Namibia rugby team at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Photo: AFP

Welsh head coach Phil Davies has admitted that the team from south-west Africa stand no chance in their Pool C opener against defending champions and title-holders New Zealand.

Their last pool match, against an Argentina team that stunned two-time world champions South Africa last month, is another fixture they cannot realistically expect to win.

Namibia team profile

That leaves Tonga and Georgia, who they tackle seven days apart, as the best chances of ending the winless streak.

There will be live commentary of all of the Rugby World Cup Games in our dedicated Rugby World Cup section

Many of the World Cup defeats were by wide margins, most notably a 142-0 mauling from 2003 hosts Australia in Adelaide.

The partly desert former German and South African-ruled country came closest to a win four years later in France, falling 32-17 to Ireland.

Davies, who took charge three months ago when Danie Vermeulen quit, and skipper Jacques Burger acknowledge a craving within the small, dedicated Namibian rugby community for a historic victory.

"There is a lot of courage and character in the squad and we will do everything possible to achieve that elusive first victory," said Davies.

"All I ask for is 100 percent effort -- whether in training or in games -- and that is what I have got for the past two months.

"The World Cup challenge is massive given that we have only a few full-time professionals in our squad, but the effort made by the players and coaching staff has been tremendous.

"I accept that we cannot defeat New Zealand -- the aim is simply to give our all for 80 minutes," said the winner of 46 caps for Wales.

London-based Saracens flanker Burger said: "To represent our country is a privilege not many players enjoy.

"We promise our supporters that we will do our best, be positive and work toward the goal of a first World Cup victory."

Burger, fellow loose forward Renaldo Bothma and hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld are the best known Namibian rugby stars.

An abrasive open-side flanker, Burger has made more than 100 appearances in the English Premiership for Saracens and was outstanding in their run to the 2014 European Cup final.

After several seasons with unfashionable Currie Cup side Pumas in north-east South Africa, Bothma moved to Durban Super Rugby team Coastal Sharks this year.

Van Jaarsveld was another Super Rugby performer, playing for the Bloemfontein-based Central Cheetahs.

Fly-half Theuns Kotze, the goal-kicker and often the chief points contributor, plays in France for third-tier club Bourg-en-Bresse near Lyon.

Eleven of the squad are based in South Africa, 10 in Namibia, six in France, two in England, and one each in New Zealand and Romania.

Those playing in Namibia are a throwback to the pre-1995 amateur era of rugby -- training as the sun rises, working, and training again as the sun sets.

"It is like a trip down memory lane to the old values of rugby," said Davies.

"These players have full-time jobs, have to fit in daily training sessions, and sometimes take unpaid leave to play."

Namibia warmed up for the World Cup by defeating Russia 39-19 and 45-5, Kenya 46-13 and Zimbabwe 80-6 with all the games staged in Windhoek.

They clinched the lone qualifying place reserved for Africa by trouncing hosts Madagascar 89-10 last year in the final match of a four-nation tournament.

-AFP

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