Collin Smith is NamibiaÔÇÖs next rugby captain
NAME: Collen Smith
D.O.B: 02 September 1991
P.O.B: Germiston, South Africa
CLUB: United Rugby Club
LEAGUE: Namibian Premier League
POSITION: Tighthead prop (3)
SENIOR NATIONAL CAPS: 4 (Welwitschias)
When I first saw him, one name that appeared on my mind was Kees Lensing, a former pugilist in Namibian International Rugby, but the answer I expected from this young player is not what I got.
The name Collen Smith is still fresh in the minds of many zealous local rugby followers and a few of us did not even know it existed until we picked up this paper to gaze through.
Being a current player of our national rugby team, the Welwitschias and Lensing as a former skipper during the 2007 IRB International Rugby World Cup, they played in similar positions, have a resembling body physique but that does not mean they are brothers neither are they related.
Born 2 September 1991, Smith is arguably Namibia’s next national team captain. He is a name of the future.
Currently he plays for United Rugby Club in the Namibian Premier League as a Tighthead prop (No.3) and is also comfortable as Loosehead prop (No.1).
He has all the leadership qualities and rugby skills that make a hero.
Smith was born in the city of Germiston in the East Rand, Gauteng in South Africa but his family moved to Namibia while he was still a pre-schooler.
He grew up and attended school in Namibia where he started playing rugby at school for fun. But after completing the highest grade at Windhoek Technical High School, his affection for rugby did not stop.
The resilient prop did not win any major award during his school days but he played in the school’s senior team for three years where he was awarded the captain’s arm-band for his leadership and the never-say-die attitude on the field.
“Collin has physical strength, the ability to get over the advantage line, solid on defence and breakdown points and always delivers when placed on the field,” says Marius Richter, a former teammate at United Rugby Club.
With United Rugby Club, the 22-year old has played in about 20 matches since debuting three seasons ago. Last season, United ended 3rd in an eight-team Premier League where Smith’s 5 tries (25 points) aided the team a lot.
He received his first national call-up at the age of 20 while his international debut came in June 2012 against Senegal.
Smith first match was saccharine as Namibia narrowly swept past the stubborn Senegalese side in the 2012 Africa Cup Division 1B with a 20-18 win at a 40 000-seater Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
“I was only 20. It was good to know that I can represent my country at a very young age. I used to think that was something done by veterans,” says the frontward, adding, “The Senegal match was so far the toughest of my career. They (Senegal) are physically demanding and have great pace and skills.”
The other matches were a shocking loss to Madagascar 57-54 in the 2012 Africa Cup Division 1B and during the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations where they beat Zimbabwe, an African Champion, before the last minute disappointing 38-37 loss in the final match against Spain who eventually won the tournament.
But his most memorable match was against Spain last year.
“They are ranked much higher than us. We lost in the very last second with one point. We gave them a run for their money and almost won,” he explains.
Soon, the 2015 IRB World Cup qualifiers will commence and Namibia will play Senegal in June for the CAR 1B tournament and it’s a must-win for the Welwitschias to move up to the CAR 1A division.
“I am yet to register a point in international tests and that is my target for the New Year,” he envisages.
His best international rugby player is Springbok flanker, Louis-Francois Pickard Louw, who also plays his club rugby at Bath in England’s top flight league.
Like his aspiring idol, Smith has as well a dream of playing in foreign lands, not necessarily in a specific league but he states that the road to this greener pasture depends on any proposal made.
“My dream is to go play professional rugby in South Africa or in Europe. It depends on where I get an offer. So it is hard to say in which league,” he clarifies.
Smith is currently enrolled at the University of the Free State for a Quantity Surveying course. This is just how hard working he is - taking up studies and sport at the same time.
It’s encouraging to other players too, especially to eliminate the illusory notion that, combining the two will not work.
“Even with his studies, we train five days a week from 18h00 to about 20h00. We also have morning gym sessions from 05:00 in the morning,” he explains.
Knowing that a follower does not move forward unless their leaders do; by taking up this journey, Smith, a student of the legendary Daniel Carter has opted to risk the usual as he does not want to settle for the ordinary.