Namibia’s rugby 15s, the Welwitschias, on Saturday solidified their march towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup with a resounding 41-10 victory over the Sables of Zimbabwe to win the 2021 edition of the Stellenbosch Rugby Challenge, held at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.
The four nations’ tournament kicked off about two weeks ago in South Africa, and saw Namibia being joined by Zimbabwe, Brazil and Kenya for this year’s edition.
On their way to Saturday’s final, the Welwitschias had beaten Kenya 60-24, while Zimbabwe on the other hand defeated Brazil 24-22 to reach the final.
And as expected, the Zimbabweans brought their A-game to the field and saw them heading into the changeover leading 7-5. But the Namibians fought back, and their superior fitness levels handsomely paid off in the second half as they dominated all proceedings on their way to a 41-10 victory.
The win also saw the Welwitschias win their first-ever Stellenbosch Rugby Challenge trophy, which will serve as a great morale-booster going into next year’s final round of qualifiers for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya, who are all fighting for a spot at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, were using the Stellenbosch event as a preparatory tournament.
Brazil, which was the only non-African participant at the tournament, is also seeking qualification to the 2023 Rugby World Cup through the Americas’ regional qualifiers, where they are vying against Chile, Paraguay and Colombia.
The tournament is sanctioned by World Rugby, and also contributes to the participants’ overall world rankings.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be the 9th edition of the quadrennial world championship for men’s rugby union teams. It is scheduled to take place in France from 8 September to 28 October 2023 in nine venues across that country.
It will be the fourth time that France hosts the Rugby World Cup, having previously hosted the 2007 event, in 1999 as well as joint hosts in 1991. It precedes the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, and will take place less than a year before the Olympics opening ceremony.