The country’s senior rugby team, especially its youngsters, are set to miss out on some much-needed game time and exposure from crucial competitions such as South Africa’s Supersport Rugby Challenge and the Currie Cup First Division and others.
This is after the general council of the South Africa Rugby Union (Saru) at its last meeting resolved that no invitational teams will be accommodated in next year’s domestic competitions due to financial and logistical hiccups caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
President of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU), Corrie Mensah, also confirmed the news in a statement this week and further said Saru has decided that it will only focus on its local teams and various developmental programmes, and therefore no provision will be made for invitational teams such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and others for the 2021 calendar.
Over the years, Namibia’s Welwitschias have been regular participants in South African domestic rugby competitions such as the then Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup First Division and in more recent years the Supersport Rugby Challenge to mention but a few. Not only have those competitions helped provide game time and top opposition for Namibia, but they have also opened tons of doors for hordes of Namibian players to sign professional contracts with numerous South African super rugby clubs.
But Mensah, however, remains optimistic and has assured that the NRU is hard at work and is in constant consultation with World Rugby with the hope of putting up a bumper calendar for local players come next year, and is also waiting to hear the way forward from the world rugby governing body around international competitions such as the Nations Cup, the Rugby Africa Cup and the Barthes U/20 Tournament, which he says will all provide game time to the national team.
“The NRU has already contacted Saru to determine the possibility of playing friendly matches against its unions. Lastly, the NRU wishes to commend all the players that are participating in the high-performance programme and who are exercising with great determination during the off season. Our clubs are also urged and encouraged to start as soon as possible with training to prepare the players for possible higher honours next year,” said Mensah.