Windhoek - Namibia national rugby team, Welwitschias, are ready for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan after the management announced the final squad with some notable absentees this week.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be the ninth Rugby World Cup, and is to be held in Japan from 20 September to 2 November. The Welwitschias are in the group of death alongside South Africa, New Zealand, Italy and Canada.
The 31-man squad was announced on Monday, with Theuns Kotze, and England based Harlequins star Renaldo Bothma some of the notable absentees. Bothma, who played for the Welwitschias against the Southern Kings in 28 – 22 win, announced his shock retirement on Sunday just a day before the squad was announced.
Sources said that Bothma was informed by head coach, Phil Davies, that he hasn’t made the cut for the final squad. Sources say that Bothma was not committed to playing for the country making himself only available days before the World Cup.
On Twitter, Bothma, however, said that he was retiring from international rugby to concentrate on his club.
“I would like to announce my retirement from international rugby with immediate effect. I want to wish the Namibian boys all the best at the World Cup. I am now looking forward to an exciting season ahead with Harlequins,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Speaking during the squad announcement, Davies said he was excited and very happy with the team which was selected. He said it was a process that started long time ago by introducing youngsters to the set up in preparation for this year’s tournament.
The management, however, still selected a couple of players with experience.
Veteran scrum-half Eugene Jantjies will travel to a fourth Rugby World Cup after he was named in Namibia’s 31-man squad for Japan 2019.
Jantjies made his Rugby World Cup debut during his country’s 32-17 defeat to Ireland in Bordeaux in 2007 and has gone on to make 11 tournament appearances.
The 67-cap veteran is one of four players – alongside Darryl de la Harpe, Rohan Kitshoff and PJ van Lill – included by Davies who appeared at New Zealand 2011. In total, there are 15 players in the squad that have previous Rugby World Cup experience.
Those include captain Johan Deysel and Tjiuee Uanivi, who will act as the centre’s vice-captain in Japan.
Namibia have qualified for each of the last six Rugby World Cups but are yet to register their first win. The Welwitschias came close to ending that drought in Exeter four years ago. However, Theuns Kotzé's late try could not prevent a 17-16 defeat to Georgia at Sandy Park.
Namibia have been drawn in Pool B at Rugby World Cup 2019 and will open their campaign against Italy in Higashiosaka City on 22 September before games against South Africa, New Zealand and Canada.
Davies’ side finished fourth at the World Rugby Nations Cup 2019 in June despite beating hosts Uruguay 30-28 in Montevideo.
They will conclude their preparations for Japan with a second match against PRO14 side Southern Kings on Saturday in Walvis Bay.
The full squad is as follows:
Forwards: Andre Rademeyer, Nelius Theron, Desiderius Sethie, A J de Klerk, Johannes Coetzee, Obert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tjiuee Uanivi, Johan Retief, Thomasau Forbes, Rohan Kitshoff, Max Katjijeko, Prince !Gaoseb, Wian Conradie, P J van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Janco Venter.
Backs: Cliven Loubser, Helarius Kisting, Damian Stevens, Eugene Jantjies, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel (captain), Justin Newman, J C Greyling, Johann Tromp, Chad Plato, Lesley Klim, Janry du Toit, P J Walters.