Namibia’s senior rugby team, the Welwitschias, have never missed a world cup since making their debut in 1999, and new coach Allister Coetzee is adamant they will again qualify for the next edition set for France in 2023.
Coetzee made these remarks during a meet and greet event with local media in the capital on Saturday. The 58-year-old gaffer was appointed as the Welwitschias’ head coach in June this year until 2023.
The former Springbok coach has since led the Namibian team at this year’s Rugby Africa Cup held in Ivory Coast in July when they lost one and won one match to advance to the next stage of qualification set for next year.
Unpacking his plans, the coach said he aims to guide the Welwitschias into their seventh Rugby World Cup appearance.
“We have to qualify to the world cup, that’s not negotiable… which means we have to do things a little better this time around,” he said.
“Yes, without a doubt, Namibia will be a force to be reckoned with. We are making sure we are all aligned, making sure we try to improve our local rugby premier league, and also improve the quality of coaches and our athletes.”
Coetzee added there will never be a case where Namibian rugby will fade away, saying: “We will be there always and we will become better as always. Our dream remains that we win one game at a world cup.”
In order to get enough preparation ahead of the last phase of qualification, he said international tours and various training camps are lined up for the team.
“We have phase one that we are busy with. We have overseas players who are professional, and we have got locals and the under-20s as well as local club players. We want to make sure we spread the net as wide as possible and not miss out on local talent that could represent the national side.
“We are looking forward to the November tour which will be finalised shortly by the union, and this could take place overseas or locally. For phase two, which is the most important phase – the world cup qualification – we will have warm-up games against Griquas, but we want Namibia’s best squad of 28 to start the game against Burkina Faso.”
Coetzee also hinted at games against European, USA and Canadian teams to build up towards the world cup qualifiers.
Namibia will play the Burkinabé in next year’s Africa Cup quarterfinals, after qualifying as one of eight teams in Ivory Coast in July this year.