…As Jones focuses on taking Welwitschias to another level
By John Tuerijama
WELWITSCHIAS head coach, Lyn Jones, said that 2018 will be a critical year, for rugby as Namibia heads into the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers later this year with all efforts and focus to be directed towards the national rugby team mentor Phil Jones.
The Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) recently announced that Jones would resume coaching duties with Welwitschias in April.
The NRU said Jones would spearhead a more experienced Welwitschias side for the 2018 Super Sport Rugby Challenge and the Currie Cup season.
Namibia Rugby Limited (NRL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mervin Green said that following a thorough review of the 2017 rugby season, the company confirmed the appointment of Jones and his assistant coaches Roger Thompson and JP Nel.
He said that the Welwitschias was the feeding system to the national rugby team hence their on-field performances had a direct impact on the national senior team.
NRL Board Chairperson, Bradley Basson said that they were looking for consistency and given Welwitcschias near misses last year in the Currie Cup, the team had a poor start in the opening matches but had improved steadily. Basson said the Welwitschias should improve their game all the time as they had to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) through the Africa Gold Cup.
Responding to questions on his challenges, Jones said all competitions were important but however, some were more than others.He said, “The critical period this year will be RWC 2019 qualification matches, plain and simple. All efforts and focus will be directed towards giving Jones and the players the best preparation for each match.
“Our weakness’ has been conditioning and strength levels, these two are being addressed and it will take years to make the type of gains required to move up the World rugby rankings.
“We have made a start and if our fitness levels have improved significantly at Welwitschias level then we will witness, improved score-lines and performances.”
Jones noted that if players do not work on their strength and conditioning during the off season, now was already too late to make an impression for the Welwitschias.
“We will not be doing anything differently, just getting better at our game, teaching players how to train, how to improve, prioritize their weaker areas. Learning to work hard and what’s required during a match to be successful,” stressed the coach.
He added that, “We made big strides in 2017. I was delighted with the progress from the start to October, improvements were significant. There has to be continuity in players selection, players conditioning, coaches, developmental routes and continuity is key for the future and people involved in the sport need to put players first. It’s happening.”
“We are on the right road. Can everybody buy in and support the National cause, when people share the ‘WHY’ we are involved in rugby, then nothing can stop us achieving.
“There are many promising players both in South Africa universities and playing in Namibia club competition, my role is to identify who has the ability and promise and to give them a chance.” Jones said the RWC qualifiers would have an impact on Welwitschias’ results this year adding that the standard of rugby outside of Namibia was incredibly strong and growing at a rapid pace and if not matched local rugby would fall behind.
He said that last rugby season, players began to understand the importance of getting fit to play rugby rather than playing rugby to get fit, and that players also learned how to train professionally and be teammates.
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