Frustration for Welwitschias as match against Canada is cancelled

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia’s national rugby team, the Welwitschias, will have to wait for four more years if they are to register their first ever World Cup rugby win after their last match against Canada at the on-going World Cup in Japan was cancelled due to a typhoon.

The Welwitschias have finally amassed their first ever draw at the rugby World Cup spectacle after their match was cancelled due to bad weather but it was not in the fashion they wanted to at ending their 22-match winless streak at a World Cup.

Prior to Namibia’s match against Canada, several matches were cancelled but everyone was still hopeful that the Welwitschias-Canada match would go ahead.

However, in the end, after extensive evaluation, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee announced the cancellations of last weekend’s Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Head coach, Phill Davies, tweeted, “Thank you namibianrugby players & management, it’s been the most rewarding experience of our rugby careers #Proud #Fantasticmen.”

A veteran of three World Cups and three junior world trophies, Vernon Morkel, helped set a no-excuses tone in the Namibia team that means the second-best side in Africa will depart the tournament knowing they gave everything on the field.

"During my time, I've seen it when players fail, they blame other people, other things, except themselves. They always have excuses. So we take all the excuses away.

"We give them the best medical care, the best strength and conditioning coaching, the best recovery and nutrition, everything. So at the end of the day when they walk on to the field they have no excuse not to perform," he said.

It is a theme head physiotherapist Innis Erasmus has also invested in. He led by example, relocating his family to Namibia from South Africa to prepare the players for the tournament.

"We want to provide the Tier 2 nations with a Tier 1 management set-up so at the end of the day we don't have an excuse not to win a game at the World Cup," he said.

While Sunday's intended opponents, Canada, are starting to reap the professional benefits of Major League Rugby, Namibia's squad is still rooted in the fundamental values of the amateur game.

"The players do the small stuff extremely well, in terms of recovery and nutrition," team physiotherapist Aneurin Robyn said. "Because they aren't professional they need to look after their bodies better because they work, they sleep less, all the stress."

According to Morkel, it is this reality that has instilled a self-sufficiency within the group, which will serve them well as they move on from the tournament and set their sights on France in 2023.

"There is one highlight we're all looking forward to: getting that one elusive win. It would be a reward for all our hard work. The nation deserves it. It would put us on the map for more sponsorship and more involvement of kids in the game.

"But representing my country at the World Cup is a great honour and privilege. It doesn't matter what you do in life, you want to reach the pinnacle.

"I've seen more than 20 countries just through rugby. I've met lots of people all over the world and nothing can take that away. Money can't buy these experiences."

 

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