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Welwitschias conclude training camp in Swakopmund

Welwitschias conclude training camp in Swakopmund

By Adolf Kaure.

The Namibian rugby team commonly known as the “Welwitschias” concluded a one-week training camp this week in Swakopmund.

The camp included 45 players chosen by coach Alister Coetzee, vying for a place to represent the country at the 2023 RWC Rugby World Cup (RWC) in France. Team captain Johan Deysel said that preparations for the national team are going according to plan.

“Our coaching staff is world class and we are preparing like the tier one teams. We are working on the targets that we need to meet to compete with tier one nations. So, our preparations are going really well.”

“We are training about the game, so that when we get on the field everyone is 100 percent on par,” he said.

Namibia has never won a RWC match. However, Deysel said that the Welwitschias are showing progress and are optimistic to get that first victory.

Namibia have been drawn against three-time winners New Zealand, 2022 Six Nations champions France as well as Italy and Uruguay.

“It is a tough group for sure. We are starting off against Italy – a very good team, but we have a chance.”

“We are training to get a win and we are targetting two wins against Italy and Uruguay. Hopefully we can get a win in one of the those two games. The other two games are against very good teams, so we will give our best. Our target is to win two games, if we do that, it will be great,” said Deysel.

With a small domestic league, most Namibian rugby players are semi-professional. This is not the case for 31-year-old Deysel, who plies his trade at French Pro Division 2 team – Colomiers.

When asked if the 2023 Rugby World Cup would provide a platform for some of his teammates to market themselves to ultimately play professionally in top rugby leagues around the world, he said: “It is a world stage and as we have seen in the past, some of the players use this as an opportunity to get on and play somewhere in the world.”

“It is another opportunity for young players coming up to open a path and get a contract somewhere in the world to earn some money while playing rugby.”

The team also held a signing ceremony at the MTC Dome on Thursday to give their fans autographs while at the coast.

Deysel concluded by calling on the Namibian public to get behind the team when they take to the field when the action starts in September.

“Thanks for the support so far, we know that you are behind us and we are going to give you our best. Keep supporting us and we are going to make you proud,” he said.

Namibia qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup by defeating Burkina Faso 71-5, Zimbabwe 34-19 and Kenya 36-0 respectively during the African qualifiers which concluded in 2022.

With the Rugby World Cup only starting in September, the Welwitschias will tackle Uruguay, Argentina and Chile in the Nations League.

After the Swakopmund training camp, head coach Alister Coetzee trimmed his squad to 35 players.

Welwitschia players autograph fans’ souvenirs during the signing ceremony held on Thursday 20 July. IN 2022, the Namibian national team has qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup that starts in September. (Photograph by Adolf Kaure)


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