Namibia’s national rugby team capped a great year when they beat Tunisia 22-10 in Windhoek on October 28 to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It was the fourth successive time that Namibia had qualified for the World Cup and the fifth time overall, as they once again underlined their status as the second best rugby nation on the African continent behind the world champions, the Springboks from South Africa. Namibia’s victory in Windhoek gave them a 40-23 aggregate victory after Namibia won the first leg in Tunisia 18-13.
Namibia beat Tunisia
In a tense and physical match in Windhoek, the match was still wide open at halftime with Tunisia holding a narrow 10-9 lead. But the visitors’ discipline let them down as they were continuously penalised for offside and ruck infringements, and Namibian flyhalf Emile Wessels took full advantage with his accurate boot.
Wessels scored 17 points with the boot (five penalties and one conversion) while eighthman Tinus du Plessis scored the only try for Namibia.
In the first leg in Tunis, Namibia scored two tries through fullback fullback Chrysander Botha and hooker Hugo Horn, two penalties by flyhalf Emile Wessels and one conversion by Chrysander Botha.
Namibia thrash Ivory Coast
In June, Namibia comfortably beat the Ivory Coast 67-27 on aggregate home and away in their first World Cup qualifying matches of the year.
Namibia drew the first leg encounter 13-all in Abidjan on June 13, before overwhelming the Ivory Coast 54-14 in Windhoek a fortnight later.
In the first leg encounter in Abidjan, Namibia struggled on a wet field in rainy conditions. Namibian fullback Chrysander Botha succeeded with two penalties as the teams went into the break at 6-all.
Shortly after the restart Namibia took the lead when centre Piet van Zyl cut through the defence and forced his way over the line, for a try converted by Botha. The Ivory Coast however struck back with a converted try from a quick counterattack 10 minutes from time to tie the match.
Namibia overpower Ivory Coast at home
Namibia completely dominated the return leg in Windhoek as they ran in a total of seven tries in a great display of attacking rugby.
Namibia’s 20-year-old fullback Chrysander Botha had a great game, scoring two tries, three penalties and five conversions for a personal haul of 29 points, but it was Namibia’s forwards who laid the foundation with their constant pressure and dominance of the set pieces.
Here the loose trio of Tinus du Plessis, Jacques Burger and Jacques Nieuwenhuis was outstanding, with their terrier-like tackling and relentless drives, while PJ van Lill, who came on in the second half also had a storming game.
The Ivory Coast managed to hold Namibia for most of the first half to go into the break at 16-9 down, but the floodgates opened in the second half as Namibia ran in a total of seven tries.
Besides Botha’s brace, the other try scorers were Tinus du Plessis, Eugene Jantjies, McGrath van Wyk, Piet van Zyl and Jacques Burger.
Namibian tour to Argentina
In May, Namibia travelled to Argentina for two matches against Argentina A, as part of their preparations for the World Cup qualifiers. Namibia’s tour to Argentina was made possible through financial support from the International Rugby Board.
Namibia were thrashed 62-7 in the first encounter on May 8, as Argentina A ran in ten tries to Namibia’s one.
Namibia’s only points came ten minutes after the break when wing David Philander intercepted the ball in his own half and raced through to score under the posts, with flyhalf Jaco van Zyl adding the conversion.
The following week Namibia put up a much better performance before going down 19-7 to the Jaguars.
Argentina opened the scoring with two early tries, but when Namibian eighthman JP van Lill scored a try converted by Chrysander Botha, Namibia were right back in the game with a 12-7 deficit at halftime.
Namibia could however not penetrate the Jaguars’ defence and they scored a late try with three minutes remaining to seal their victory.
Huge turnout for the Springboks
On May 29, Namibia staged a historic match between the Springboks, playing as a ‘South African XV’ and a Namibian Invitation XV, which included several South African players.
It was the first time that the Springboks had played on the African continent outside of South Africa and a bumper crowd of about 10 000 fans turned up to watch the historic match.
It was a great spectacle, with the Namibian XV putting up a superb first half performance, as they went into the break trailing 8-7. Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers however brought on some of his top players like Jean de Villiers and Juan Smith as second half replacements and the Springboks eventually ran out comfortable 36-7 victors.
The most outstanding performance for the Namibian team came from South African flyhalf Derrick Hougaard, who kept the Springboks on the back foot with his huge touch kicks, while he also gave a sharp service to his backline.
The loose forwards Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Jacques Burger were outstanding in the rucks and defence, while Nico Esterhuyse gave a fine performance in the lineouts and in the loose. The Namibian captain Kees Lensing also had a great game, winning his scrumming battle against his Springbok counterpart John Smit and capping a fine display with a try.
Juniors lose to Zimbabwe
While Namibia’s senior national side seems to be improving, the juniors stumbled as they failed to reach the IRB Junior World Cup Trophy for the first time in three years.
Namibia had won the African U20 Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2008 but at the 2009 event in Nairobi, Kenya they lost 39-7 to Zimbabwe in the final.
It was the third successive year that the two sides had met in the final, with Namibia narrowly beating Zimbabwe 16-13 in the 2008 final. En route to the 2009 final, Namibia thrashed Zambia 89-0 and beat Kenya 29-3.
In April, Namibia finished fifth at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy which also took place in Nairobi. In their final play-off match they came from behind to beat Papua New Guinea 48-43.
Namibia were rather unfortunate not to make the final. They beat the hosts Kenya 22-17 in their opening match and then ran in 17 tries to overwhelm the Cayman Islands 117-0 to go top of their group.
In their final group match the United States however beat them 29-24, winning a bonus point in the process to top Group A ahead of Kenya, while Namibia dropped down to third place in the group.
Rehoboth make history
Rehoboth Rugby Club made history when they won the Premier League title for the first time after beating United 26-19 in the final on October 3.
It was the first time that Rehoboth had qualified for the final and United started the match as the overwhelming favourites after finishing well on top of the log during the group stages. But Rehoboth, spurred on by their fans decked out in their traditional red and black colours, lived up to the occasion with a great performance, to pull off one of the biggest shocks in recent years.
Rehoboth’s forwards struggled in the scrums were United often pushed them away at will, but they held their own in the lineouts while they tackled ferociously, forcing United into mistakes.
Their backs, with the fleet footed fullback Desmond Snyders and tricky centre David Philander at the forefront, had United’s defence stretched to the limit with their incisive attacks and enterprising play.
United, on the other hand, contributed to their own downfall with some poor options and numerous unforced errors as they started to buckle under Rehoboth’s pressure.
United attacked relentlessly in the final stages but Rehoboth defended superbly and when the final whistle went their fans swarmed onto the field to congratulate their heroes and salute a great performance.
Rehoboth’s try scorers were fullback Desmond Snyders, flanker Huscit Visagie, flyhalf Nathan van Wyk and centre David Philander, while left wing Chase Diergaardt added three conversions.
United’s try scorers were lock Morne Blom, centre Tinus Venter and fullback Robert Herridge, while Herridge and left wing Winmar Rust each added a conversion.
Before the semifinal and final playoff matches, United had comfortably finished on top of the Premier League log with 53 points from 14 matches. United finished second on 43 points, followed by Western Suburbs (43), Kudus (40), Reho Falcon (39), Wanderers (38), Unam (32) and Jaguars (0).
The fight for the final four semifinal places went down to the wire before Rehoboth clinched their spot with a dramatic 24-23 victory against Wanderers on August 29.
Namibia record 2009
Argentina A 8 May Buenos Aires 62-7 Lost
Argentina A 15 May Buenos Aires 19-7 Lost
Namibia XV v South Africa XV May 29 Windhoek 36-7 Lost
Ivory Coast 13 June Abidjan Drew 13-13
Ivory Coast 27 June Windhoek Won 54-14
Tunisia 14 November Tunis 18-13 Won
Tunisia 28 November Windhoek 22-10 Won