The Namibian rugby team’s legacy program finally paid off over the weekend with the FNB Welwitschias recording their first victory of the Vodacom Cup, by beating Assupol Limpopo Bulls 24-17.
The Welwitschias have not had to their avail the players they will likely use for the World Cup, as they have focused on local based players which has expectedly had an effect on results, prior to this past weekend. Senior players such Welwitschias captain, Jacques Burger have been occupied with club duty playing in England and Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) general manager John Williams said the plan was always to use “Our local club players and get them playing at a higher level than they are used in order to both build a capacity for local clubs and build depth within the national squad.”
Despite previous poor consecutive results by the Welwitschias at the Vodocom Cup, William said he is pleased with the progress they have made so far and everything is going according to plan.
An inexperienced and youthful Welwitschia side, mainly consisting of players that were part of the U-19 Africa Cup in August last year was announced for the Vodacom Cup and Williams said Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) are already noticing positives from the games.
“The results are not measured by wins for us. We want to build a structure. The way we assess the outcome of the matches is determined by our own criteria that we set. We just want to see that we’re improving week by week,” Williams said. He said that improvement in defense and attack are what he has been impressed with the most.
“The professional guys are all playing out of the country and this is a very great opportunity for the young guns to step up. There’s still a lot of work to be done but we want to create a group of players that will fit into our legacy program and be able to qualify for the 2019 World Cup and future World Cups,” Williams who was appointed this year explained.
He further described the tournament as an opportunity to create a pathway for the local rugby scene. So they can continue to excel even after the World Cup is over.
“The players that come here bring a lot of skill and experience with them as they play in better leagues. We want our players to learn from that and take it back to the local league. All the players we selected play in the Namibian Rugby Premier League,” explained Williams who was Namibia’s rugby coach durring 2008-2009 where he led the Welwitschias to qualification for the 2011 World Cup.
Setting this in motion has not been easy as Williams reveals that sponsorship was a struggle before First National Bank (FNB) Namibia came to their aid.
Although NRU reached an agreement with South African Rugby union (SARU) to play all their matches locally, they still have to cater for the traveling teams.
The win over Assupol Limpopo Bulls was Welwitschia’s win of the tournament. The enjoyed a comfortable game, with the Namibian Wing Johan Tromp being named Man of the Match. The next game comes against Valke on 1 May at the Hage Geingob stadium.