At a press conference in Windhoek on Tuesday, the president of the NRU, Corrie Mensah said they had withdrawn from the cooperation agreement and would draw up a new agreement with the NRL.
“The Minister of Sport invited both parties to try and resolve the stalemate, but after four hours of discussions on Monday we terminated the cooperation agreement,” he said.
“We concluded that the president of the NRU must come up with new proposals for the relationship between NRL and the NRU. Also, as a compromise so that the players do not suffer and the preparation for the World Cup is not negatively affected, we concluded that they should continue training and playing matches,” he added.
Mensah said he had drafted an eight-page report, but first needed to submit it to the chairman of the NRL, Bradley Basson before he could make it available to the public.
“Bradley Basson must still go back to the sponsors and World Rugby to see whether they accept this compromise,” he said.
One of the major sticking points between the NRU and NRL was who had the mandate to appoint the coach for the Welwitschias’ Currie Cup campaign.
According to Mensah the NRU proposed Johan Diergaardt as the Welwitschias coach after the former coach Lyn Jones resigned in June.
“The problem came with Lyn Jones’ resignation. The NRL appointed Roger Thompson to take over, but due to personal circumstances he was not available anymore. Then we appointed Johan Diergaardt as the Welwitschias’ Currie Cup coach and informed NRL as well, but they did not accept that,” he said.
The NRL, their main sponsors Namibia Breweries and FNB Namibia, as well as World Rugby insisted that the coach had to come through their High Performance Programme, which has been sponsored by World Rugby for the past few years, and NRL nominated JP Nel and Jaco Engels instead.
When the impasse could not be resolved in time, the Welwitschias were forced to withdraw from the Currie Cup, while the sponsors also declared that they would withdraw their sponsorship of Namibian rugby.
Mensah, however, said he had a problem with the HP pathway.
“We have a problem with the pathway. The Currie Cup competition does not form part of the HP pathway, that just relates to the national teams,” he said, adding that Diergaardt was the best candidate.
“Johan Diergaardt is the most qualified coach in Namibia; he has a Level Three coaching certificate which he got after attending a world rugby course, while he was also the national coach in 2011. He is the most qualified coach that we have in Namibia.”
In the meantime, NRL has organised some friendly matches for Namibia’s high performance squad, with the first match taking place against a Blue Bulls invitation team this Saturday, but the unresolved issues still remain.
According to Mensah, the High Performance squad trained under JP Nel and Jaco Engels on Tuesday night, but that Diergaardt was due to take over as head coach last night and would be in charge of the team on Saturday.
The Namibian squad, which will just be known as the ‘Invitation XV’ was not available yet, but the Blue Bulls have announced a powerful side that includes three Springboks in Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden and Ambrose Papier.
Mensah, meanwhile, said he didn’t think that their withdrawal from the Currie Cup would affect their long term cooperation with the South African Rugby Union.
“We wrote a letter to Saru and explained the situation. They are our neighbours and provide the best assistance we could get, so we value that cooperation and hope to continue next year.”
Source : The Namibian