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Rugby not an elitist sport anymore

Mon, 2 June 2014 03:44
by Michael Uugwanga

The Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) opened up to The Villager this week saying the organisation has gone to lengths to make rugby an all-inclusive sport despite certain quarters arguing that the sport is still dominated by one race.
(NRU) through its chief executive officer, Sybrand de Beer this week told The Villager in a wide ranging interview that, “During the 2013 ‘Get Into Rugby’ was introduced in schools in Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Oshakati, Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop. A total of 16 000km were travelled in delivering this program.”de Beer’s comment came after former Namibia Sports Commissioner (NSC) and sports expert, Karl Persendt criticized local rugby for not doing enough to root out racism during the Namibia Sports Conference (NSC) that was held in Windhoek in April this year.
However according to de Beer the sport has been received well in areas that are dominated by black people.
“Maybe he (Persendt) was referring to the old regime before Independence because NRU is working on a transformation of making sure that the sport is played in areas were the sport was never played before. I totally disagree with him saying that there is racism in rugby,” said de Beer.
de Beer is also calling on the entire nation to rally behind the rugby national team the Welwitschias ahead of their Confederations of African Rugby (CAR) 1A qualifiers in Madagascar, were Namibia will face, Kenya, Zimbabwe and home side Madagascar.
The Welwistchias will be looking for their fourth successive World Cup appearances that will be held in London in 2015, having previously qualified the last three tournaments.
“ So far the planning and preparation of the players has gone really well, overcoming a few obstacles along the way. The following two months will be crucial for the national team to get the affairs in order for the challenges that lie ahead. Every stakeholder in the NRU, from board members to possible sponsors need to rally together as a unit and support the national team in their crusade,” said de Beer.
de Beer, also said this year the second editions of the Navachab Gold Mine Regional Cup and the Tri-Nations Rugby Series will take place before the end of the year.
“ Six regional teams namely, Khomas Knights, Hardap Raiders, Western Chiefs (all pool A), //Khara Mustangs, Northern Reds and Samurai’s (all pool B) will participate in the competition. The winner of each pool will receive N$20 000, the runner-up N$ 15 000 and third place N$ 10 000. The tournament will take place as from the 19th October to 9th of November.
de Beer adds: The NRU will also host the second Tri-Nations Rugby Series as from the 16th to 18th November at the Hage Geingob Stadium. Both Zimbabwe and Kenya have confirmed their participation,” said de Beer.
de Beer said  the current board inherited a financial troubled union two years ago but managed to turn it around.
 “Two years the International Rugby Board (IRB) wanted to withdraw its funding to the NRU because the union was insolvent, but we managed to turn the situation around through proper financial management and control,” he said.
NRU currently receives about 120 000 Pounds roughly (N$1, 680,000) per year in funding from the IRB, which would increase to about 370 000 Pounds, roughly (N$5,180,000) if the country qualifies for the 2015 world cup, said IRB’s Head of Competitions and Performance, Mark Egan.
“It’s actual quiet phenomenal what the NRU board has achieved. They have regained the trust of sponsors while their high performance and grassroots development is also on track,” said Egan.