Welwitschias to lock horns with Airlink Pumas in inaugural Airlink Cup
Independent regional airline, Airlink, is strengthening Namibia-South Africa rugby ties with the launch of the Airlink Cup, which will see the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias take on reigning Currie Cup champions, the Airlink Pumas in Windhoek next Saturday, 4 March.
The match, which will kick-off at 16.00 at the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium, will inaugurate what is envisaged as an annual contest, to be expanded in the future to include the Under 20 Men’s and Open Women’s teams.
The Airlink Cup trophy match will be preceded by a warm-up game on Wednesday 01 March.
The Airlink Cup extends Airlink’s association with rugby and follows an eight-year association with the Mpumalanga-based Pumas, which culminated in their January 2022 agreement which saw the team rebranded as the “Airlink Pumas”.
“Airlink has close ties and strong connections with Namibia and Mpumalanga, which are key markets for our Southern African and long-haul international leisure and business traveller customers. Just as we are proud to play our part in providing the air travel connectivity that unlocks opportunities for economic growth, we view the Airlink Cup as another way to cement those ties through the shared passion for rugby,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
Airlink operates up to eight return flights daily from Johannesburg and Cape Town to both Windhoek and Walvis Bay. In Mpumalanga, Airlink serves Mbombela and Skukuza from Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg up to 12 times a day. It also operates flights from Mbombela to Livingstone, Zambia, and to Vilanculos in Mozambique.
“The match next Wednesday and the Airlink Cup trophy contest on Saturday is great season preparation opportunities for the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and Namibia’s 2023 World Cup teams,” said Petrie Theron, Namibian Rugby Union President.
“Airlink has been a major supporter of the Pumas over the years. They make it possible for us to fly to and from our away matches. This helps our team optimise its pre-game preparation and post-match recovery. The Airlink Cup and build-up games are perfectly timed as we gear up for our 2023 Premier Currie Cup title defence campaign,” explained Jimmy Stonehouse, Airlink Pumas Director of Rugby.
Welwitschias Rugby Head Coach, Chrysander Botha, believes “the tour will be a thrilling experience for fans. They get to witness the best of South African and Namibian rugby head-to-head in action. From a coaching perspective, we are confident the warmup matches will be an exciting and successful opportunity for our local players to lay claim to places in the World Cup squad”.
“The Airlink Cup is an initiative to promote and strengthen the bond between our two rugby unions, whilst promoting Airlink which plays a vital role in linking our home bases and local economies with the rest of Southern Africa and the world. It is great to be partnered with Airlink, a professionally and passionately managed champion in its own fiercely competitive industry,” said Mpumalanga Rugby Union President, AG Visser.