Windhoek – Namibia’s Under-20 national rugby team will host neighbours and perennial rivals Zimbabwe on May 19 for a Test match in preparation for the Barthes Cup in Kenya from June 24 to July 2.
Namibia Rugby Union acting president Theo Grunewald told The Southern Times Sports that they were keen to roll out international rugby matches again after a one-and-a-half year hiatus imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grunewald said the Zimbabwe match would be played behind closed doors, and both teams will stay in a bio-secure bubble during the pre-game camp and up to match day in line with international virus control regulations.
“The guys will be in camp sometime in the next few weeks but they have been preparing for this match since January, to stay in shape, because the sport was affected by the pandemic like everything else. We expect a good game against the Zimbabweans and we are always glad to play them,” he said.
Grunewald said the members of the Namibia squad that will go into camp will be announced “soon”. The Zimbabwe Rugby Union has already started camping in preparation for the Southern African derby.
Grunewald said Namibia was using the Zimbabwe match as preparation for the Barthes Cup, which will feature some of Africa’s top-ranked teams. Namibian will play Senegal, Kenya, Madagascar and Tunisia, who all count among the continent’s best U20 sides.
“The guys will participate in the Barthes Cup against the other top-ranked teams and we expect them to give a good account of themselves in the tournament. This is a tough tournament, but the guys are cut out for it and have competed well in the past, so I expect them to carry on with the competence in Kenya,” Grunewald said.
He added: “Discussions are underway to have this tournament played in a bio-secure bubble as the norm everywhere else for the safety of both payers and officials participating in the tournament.”