By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA is looking at making its sixth appearance at a Rugby World Cup, when they take on Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Kenya in qualifying fixtures next year for the 2019 edition of the tournament, which is slated for Japan.
Namibia takes on Uganda, Tunisia and Morocco in June next year, while they will also clash with Zimbabwe and Kenya towards the end of the year.
If the Welwitchias overcome their qualifying hurdles, they will be looking to register their first-ever win at the global tournament in 2019.
Responding to questions sent by Confidente this week, national rugby coach Phil Davies said that the Welwitschias has a very good chance in the qualifiers.
“Although the competition will be tougher in 2018 than ever before, we are confident that we have developed a team that all Namibians can be proud of, and it will be an exciting and very challenging competition,” he said. Asked about the quality of the Namibian players that are plying their trade in South Africa and Europe, Davies said, “To be clear, the majority of our players are based at home in Namibia. The development of our home-based players, since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, has been excellent and they are the heartbeat of our national team.”
“The guys in South Africa are very good players; overall the strength of our national squad includes a nice balance of youth and experience,” Davies said. Asked about the importance of both the private and public sectors, when it comes to supporting the national team financially, the coach said that he feel that it is vital that the whole country gets behind the team, before adding that both the players and the technical team love to feel the support of all Namibians, getting behind them.“We are very positive, in support of our boys this year,” he said. With the pools having been drawn for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, defending champions New Zealand and neighbouring South Africa are set to clash in Pool B, while England, France and Argentina are in Pool C and Australia, Wales and Georgia are grouped in Pool D. The seeding system from previous Rugby World Cups was retained, with the 12 automatic qualifiers from 2015 being allocated to their respective bands, based on their world rankings on the day of the draw.
Fifteen teams have currently secured their place in the 2019 tournament. They are the top three teams in each of the four pools at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, who automatically qualified for the next tournament.
Japan finished third in Pool B during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and therefore qualified.
However, by virtue of them hosting the 2019 tournament, Japan was assured of qualification for the tournament, before the 2015 Rugby World Cup took place. The remaining eight spaces are regional slots and for those nations winning cross-regional playoffs.
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