After weeks of infighting in the boardroom, Namibian rugby fans can finally look forward to some action on the field again when a Namibian Invitation team takes on a Blue Bulls Invitation team at the Hage Geingob National Rugby Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Namibia’s off the field politics scuppered their hopes of competing in this year’s Currie Cup First Division, and although consensus regarding the cooperation agreement between the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) and Namibia Rugby Limited (NRL) is still a long way off, it was decided to continue competing so as not to hinder Namibia’s preparations for next year’s World Cup. In this regard, the NRL managed to organise three friendly matches against invitation teams from the Blue Bulls, Boland Cavaliers and Western Province, with the first match due to take place against he Blue Bulls tomorrow.
Johan Diergaardt, the NRU’s nomination for head coach will now be in charge for Saturday’s match, but since he only officially took over from JP Nel on Tuesday he was reluctant to talk to the media.
Nel, however, said they were well prepared and looking forward to a good encounter.
“Our preparation has been good. We still have the core of the players from the high performance squad, while we have some new young players who will start off the bench on Saturday,” he said.
“The Bulls have three Springboks in their team, but they have 80 contracted players and are always tough so we can expect a big onslaught. It will be a big challenge for us, but also an exciting opportunity,” he said.
Nel said he was not too concerned about the off the field politics in Namibian rugby and would just focus on the job at hand.
“In the end we all have the same goal of improving Namibian rugby so I’m just focussing on my job and making sure that the players are in top condition,” he said.
He said the rugby public could expect a good performance from the Namibian team.
“The Bulls have a strong squad and will be fielding a lot of prospective Super Rugby players, but our players will not be overawed and are eager to take the game to them,” he said.
The Namibian Invitation team includes several experienced players who helped the national side qualify for the Rugby World Cup when they won the Africa Gold Cup. They include backline players like Chrysander Botha, Johann Tromp, JC Greyling, Darryl de la Harpe and Eugene Jantjies; and Mahepisa Tjeriko, AJ de Klerk and Obert Nortje amongst the forwards.
The Blue Bulls Invitation team includes three Springboks in Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden and Embrose Papier, as well as several others who have represented the Blue Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup, like Dylan Sage, Franco Naude and Tinus de Beer.
The match starts at 16h00 on Saturday afternoon, while tickets are available online at webtickets.com.na or at the gate.
The Namibian Invitation team is as follows:
Chrysander Botha, Johann Tromp, JC Greyling, Darryl de la Harpe, Janry du Toit, PW Steenkamp, Eugene Jantjies, Adriaan Booysen, Thomasu Forbes, Cameron Langenhoven, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Adriaan Ludick, AJ de Klerk, Obert Nortje and Jason Benade.
Niel van Vuuren, Quinton Esterhuisen, Carl Freygang, Denzil van Wyk, Thomas Kali, JC Winckler, Roderique Victor, Camlo Martin, Mahco Prinsloo, Gilad Plaatjies, Jamie Joseph, Rudi Pretorius and Lezardo Vos.