Alastair Eykyn

Singing Namibia's praises (51)

Bordeaux Someone give these guys a game. Namibia used the biggest stage of all to highlight the problems facing rugby’s so-called "minnows".

Their commitment, passion and unquestionable talent was there for all to see in Bordeaux on Sunday, as they threw an industrial-sized spanner in the Irish works. But how on earth do they progress from here?

With the best will in the world, the Africans will be beaten (perhaps heavily) by France and Argentina. They might scramble a victory over Georgia in their crunch game. But what then?

Argentina’s rise has made their inclusion in one of the Tri or Six Nations championships a necessity.

The Namibians’ cause is less celebrated. They simply don’t get to play enough international rugby. Their most capped player against Ireland was Heino Senekal, plying his trade with the Cornish Pirates in National League One, and taking part in his third World Cup.

How many caps does he have? 25 is the answer.

To give you an idea as to the gulf in numbers, Brian O’Driscoll and Fabien Pelous are also playing in their third World Cup. O’Driscoll’s played 76 times for his country, Pelous 114. On Sunday Ireland fielded a side with a total of 743 caps between them, an average of nearly 50 per man. Namibia had a combined total of 114.

Experience (witness the Irish performance) isn’t everything - but it does help, especially when your country has a pool of just 1500 players, and only a smattering of professionals.

Namibia’s recent international rugby has consisted of World Cup qualifiers against Kenya, Tunisia and Morocco. They also played in the invitational IRB Nations Cup, which amounted to three matches. Next year they will play in the Africa Cup, probably six matches.

They may then try to scrabble enough money together for an end of season tour to Spain and Portugal. Namibia need more regular, meaningful opposition for their largely amateur side.

It doesn’t need to be the major rugby nations lining up against them; but tackling the likes of Canada, the USA and Georgia more often would lift their standards. Given a little more know-how on Sunday they might just have pulled off the biggest World Cup shock of all time.

Alastair Eykyn is a Radio 5 live reporter specialising in rugby union, tennis and hockey. He is covering Ireland at the World Cup and you can see 5 live's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

The were tremendous against the Irish and good luck to them but against the very best from the Southern Hemisphere?

I think there has to be another World Cup for the smaller teams, in fact anyone who basically is not six or tri nations apart from the Pumas.

That is a World Cup of ten teams and we won't have to spend weeks on end watching the super powers in training matches!

  • 2.
  • At 09:21 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Jim Walsh wrote:

It does seem that the IRB is doing precious little to help the weaker international sides develop their game. One wonders is there a bit of self-interest at play here? After all if these side improve too much they could challenge the so-called stronger teams.

Argentina are a prime example having arrived at the top table without any real help from the rugby authorities and are still finding it almost impossible to get regular international rugby.

Argentina should be put straight into the Tri-Nations and a Pacific Rim Six Nations (including USA, Canada, Japan, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa) should be set up. More money should be pumped into the European Six Nations B competition and some sort of regular tournament (at least biennial) should be considered for the rest of the world.

There are possibilities for rugby to really develop as a worldwide sport if the IRB got their act together but I'm not going to hold my breath.

  • 3.
  • At 09:45 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Colin Dawson wrote:

Namibia played out of there skins and were more than a match for a very complacent arrogant Irish team thinking it was going to be a walk over. The IRB need to look at themselves and how they seem to funnel everything towards the top 8 nations. If the IRB truly want a "world" tournament they need to properly fund teams like Namibia and not treat them as match practice for the likes of Australia and New Zealand.

  • 4.
  • At 09:46 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

I saw Namibia play South Africa B at Windhoek in the build-up to the last WC. The national stadium had about 10 thousand hairy, beer-swilling, biltong-chewing fans screaming obscenities at the teams (and an equal number of men). It was clear that there was a pride and passion on and off the pitch, and I totally agree that they, and other minor rugby nations, should have the opportunity to test themselves more regularly.

Should there be an international league of minor nations and second teams/development teams?

  • 5.
  • At 09:50 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

i completely agree that these "minnows" do need to be playing more, but there is one thing you aren't taking into account

the last world cup, all these minnow teams never stood a cat in hells chance of causing an upset, and whilst a lot of teams have had large scores against has not necessarily reflected on the game

the minnows in this world cup are giving...especially the northern hempisphere teams a good run for their money, and whilst yes the northern hemisphere teams have been poor, they would have still playing like they did, turned them over 4 years ago with bigger scores than we are are we seeing an improvement in fact of world rugby??

maybe it is a case of these minnows clubbing together to have a sort of tri/6 nations sort of tournament like you said

  • 6.
  • At 10:07 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Marc wrote:

I totally agree, you only have to look at the progress countries like Italy have made from playing regularly (NZ game apart).
There needs to be help from some of the bigger nations both financially and inclusion into tournaments.
Surely it can't be long until there is a two tier 6 nations with Romania, Georgia, Portugal and Spain all gradually improving.

Namibia were hard done by when the Irish were awarded a try that the replay showed never was. So the true score should have been 27-17 and even that flatters Ireland. Samoa also had a perfectly good try disallowed against South Africa.

Let's face it, the "minnows" get a raw deal from many referees, and also from the IRB with regard to scheduling and finance.

At the same time they generate huge support and enthusiasm from neutrals because almost everyone loves an underdog. The IRB would do well to remember this before reducing the number playing in RWC2011 from 20 to 16, essentially to suit the size of New Zealand's infrastructure.

The RWC needs the romance and excitement of possible upsets, otherwise it is a very predictable, dull and faded ritual. And people won't pay good money to see that!

The talk of the need to avoid mismatches is mostly self-serving and against the spirit of the game. David must have the right to challenge Goliath!

  • 8.
  • At 10:10 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

Totally agree.

Was saying to my flatmate last night whilst we were watching Georgia's magnificant performance against Argentina that it's time the big 10 nations started to help these lesser (don't like that term) Nations progess as ultimately it should be good for all.

We mulled over the idea of the big 10 helping finance an annual or bi-annualt tournament including the likes of Namibia, Georgia, Romania and the Pacific Islands. Friendlies are all well and good but competitive rugby is what everyone wants.

Maybe even the possibility of the 6 Nations funding a 2nd tier European competition with eventually the possibility of promotion and relegation between the two.

These were just the views of two armchair pundits of course, but if we really want to make rugby a global game then these are the steps that must be taken.

  • 9.
  • At 10:11 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Anany wrote:

It’s a great achievement for Namibia’s rugby, I just hope it does not end there, we back home are proud of the guys. I hope to see a brave performance in the games to come.

  • 10.
  • At 10:20 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Sheldon wrote:

Well there already is a Pacific Rim 6 nations with Australia A, the Junior All Blacks, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Japan, and a European B 6 nations. However, there need to be more matches between sides from different continents - Georgia always play Romania and Russia, Uruguay always play Chile, Namibia always play Morocco, Korea always plan Japan, but the smaller nations that tend not to tour need more money for meaningful fixtures and tours against similar standard teams from other continents. Teams like the USA and Canada need a meaningful tournament and Argentina need to be included in one of the 2 main annual tournaments. Though it is simplistic to suggest this should be the tri-nations as 90% of the current Argentina squad play club/regional rugby in the northern hemisphere and would be very unlikely to be given leave at a crucial time of the season to play in the tri nations, but without these players NZ and Australia would not be interested. It has also been suggested recently that the tri-nations is on it's last legs as South Africa would rather be involved with the 6 nations and the antipodeans don't like the travelling to play the Boks. I also disagree that the World Cup should be reduced in number, that is elitist - Portugal, Georgia and Namibia deserve to be there. What the IRB need to do is spend more money to develop these teams so that they can be more competitive. Though I do like the idea of an Emerging Nations World Cup, which could be used as qualification to the main event.

  • 11.
  • At 10:31 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

The European countries have a second tier national tournament, why not put the six nations A teams in that tournament too as is done in the pacific nations cup and include a five year plan to drop the A teams and bring promotion and relegation to the six nations.
Namibia are futher behind as their clubs don't play in a cross border tournament like the Euro challenge cup. South Africa should allow a Nambian team to join the Currie Cup (as was done in the past) with a 5/10 year plan to join the super 14.
(It worked in rugby league for the catalan dragons)

  • 12.
  • At 10:41 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Will C wrote:

Too true but i think the IRB dont do enough for any team outside the top 8, for instance look at the last world cup were the island teams were without there top players as they were not released for the world cup. Look at Argentina, a great team but playing only friendlies every now and then. Look at New Zealand pinching players from there weaker island cousins. Look at the way these weaker nations come to the world cup, play three or four games, get trounced and demoralised and then head back home to what ?? Its time i believe for the stronger nations to begin sponsoring the weaker nations, if the IRB are not going to do something about it. Its time also that a shield competition was brought into the World Cup where the weaker nations can finally claim some of the lime light, after being knocked out of the primary competition. Is it just me or does the IRB seem to be trying to follow the same business plan as FIFA, which simply is never going to work. Its also time that New Zealand were stopped from taking the cream of the talent from there neighbors. Finally what about turning seeing the 6 nations turned into a world cup styled event were all (at least the european teams) can take part. We have to remember that Rugby is a developing sport and will always be a developing sport unless the weaker nations are encouraged to take it up more. Why should they if they are never going to feel glory on the big stage.

  • 13.
  • At 10:44 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Olam wrote:

i totally agree with the article . Given the experience that other have Namibia would have beaten the Irish. IRB should take a leaf from cricket and try to build the game rather all over the world . There was a time when Zimbabwe was a force to reckon with the game has simply died and where is IRB

  • 14.
  • At 10:58 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • John O'Gorman wrote:

As good as a two-tier 6 nations - Euro league sounds, I don't think it will ever happen. None of the current 6 Nations would ever agree to a system where they could be relegated.

I think the only way that this could happen is if a 'B' league was set up and established itself as a meaningful tournament with teams that improved year on year. Even then, I think its just a romantic idea as in the end money talks.

The problem with the 'lesser' nations is that there is a lack of funding to go on tours. And established nations are unlikely to visit places like Namibia as it will not reap anywhere near the rewards of a tour to Oz.

Until the established nations make a concerted effort to share the wealth, then it seems that thw Namibias of the rugby world will remain bit-part players.

  • 15.
  • At 11:05 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Gallwey wrote:

An excellent point. Just as the IRB has the international series of seven-a-side tournaments, they should set up a scheme for these other countries to compete every year. The Celtic nations did that a few years ago and it has been a great boost to their sides, and to interest in the game generally in their home countries. In the same way rugby is getting a big boost in France nationally at the moment.

  • 16.
  • At 11:21 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Liam wrote:

Incredibly I learned last night that Georgia v Russia in Tblisi attracted 70,000 people. This is something that must be tapped for the good of the game. IRB must force the big nations (particularly the Southeren Hemisphere teams) to play at least two matches against tier 2 and one against a tier 3 team (a la test cricket). I also think that Romania, Georgia, Spain and Portugal should be allowed to enter a team into Heineken Cup pre-qualifying to take the place of the Magners/Italian league play off place. I know some Romanian/Spanish clubs enter the challenge cup but lets help them out financially with Heineken Cup money - this comes from a Connacht supporter so no self interest. Also can I say that Ireland is one nation which always supported Argentinian rugby in the early days partly due to the school/Catholic Church links. Recently we have sent touring sides to Japan, Namibia, USA when other big Southern Hemisphere teams won't. I think as a small nation it should put the biggies to shame by sacrificing a little money for the good of the game and playing against developing nations.

  • 17.
  • At 11:45 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

This is an interesting debate and whilst I agree that the smaller rugby nations need support and encouragement some of these suggestions just would not work in practice. What sort of crowd would you get for Scotland A vs Portugal/Spain/Georgia? Especially if a second tier tournament coincided with the main six nations. Would any tv channel cover it?
Similarly, I'm a big fan of Argentina and what they've achieved but is their place really in the Six Nations?(which is already large enough) Would they have any support if they were to play out of Spain as has been suggested, and how would that effect the Spanish teams aspirations? Surely the tri-nations has far more scope for expansion. Finally, we have to learn some lessons from other sports, A Shield competition at the WC would just congest the fixture list and the tournament would be too long (Cricket world Cup) with more meaningless fixtures as 2nd tier teams would target the shield.

  • 18.
  • At 11:57 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

I think the IRB deserve some credit, their programme of funding the amateur nations so that they have been able to train as professionals for the 4 months leading up to the tournament has clearly paid off in the creditable performances of Namibia, Georgia and Portugal so far. They could maybe do more, but they are clearly trying, and are making a much better fist of running the game, than the ICC are of cricket. It is hard for the IRB to achieve anything without the support of the major nations, who ultimately control a great deal of the money and fixture lists.
From Namibia's point of view, entering the Currie Cup in South Africa would be a good place to start. Maybe the Portugese and Georgian national sides could enter the European Challenge Cup for a few seasons, and see how that goes.

  • 19.
  • At 12:10 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • bodge wrote:

If so contacted my local club to offer a game against the AB's even knowing we would get so outplayed i would love it! For the smaller natoions it must be a prililage to be on the same park as the big teams, and i think world cup has already proved it would be a shame not to have these teams involved. I do think that the 3rd/4th team in a group should then play a 'plate' QF SF F therefore gining them something to play for, more game tmie more exposure

  • 21.
  • At 12:39 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • martin Aldred wrote:

Why don't they take the bottom 2 teams from each group to play a plate the IRB pay for them to stay somewhere in France, cheap tickets for the fans to get bums on seats and they get a second set of games for little cost. Watching most the games between the Wales game in Nantes some of the players deserve the chance to have some more experience and FUN martin

  • 22.
  • At 12:43 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • IRB are old & insular wrote:

Argentina should be asked to join the 6 Nations, and play out of Belgium or Spain. This would be for the good of all the existing 6 nation teams.

Lets not forget that the smaller nations do have to qualify in order to qualify for the World Cup, which I think means playing quite a few matches.

In general however it seems a no-brainer that the IRB needs to put more money into the sport in these countries.

  • 23.
  • At 01:08 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Tshwaro wrote:

Namibians played very good , i am so sure that every Namibian is very proud of them , it true that Namibian National team should get more game time .

  • 24.
  • At 01:27 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Will C wrote:

In relation to comment 20, if the IRB/ big 8 countries were to go down this path it is a good possibility that they will be left to play on there own 20/30 years down the line. Dont you understand that rugby is a developing sport and always will be until we get passed the point were only 9 countries are any good at the game and rest are only there to have a laugh !! JP made a comment were they should set up there own tournament. I ask you, whose job is it to foster the game?? Am the IRB !! How can these countries even think of developing there own tournament when most of them have to already pay there own way to get to the world cup because they are amateurs. Sure at the last world cup Georgia didnt even have a kit to play in until England, not the IRB, payed for a kit for them.

In relation to point 17, how could match congestion occur, if there are two totally independent competitions involving two totally independent groups of teams, after the group stages ?? The stadiums are still there, the teams are still there soooooo......

The idea of Georgia and the other weaker Europena teams entering into the Heineken/Challenge Cups is a great idea, sure arent the irish provences which arent clubs playing in a CLUB competition. It would also end the joke of the 6 winners of the groups plus the top 2 best runners up entering the quarter finals.

  • 26.
  • At 01:34 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Andy A wrote:

Much as I hate to hold the ICC up as an example of how to run any sport, it does seem like Rugby needs an equivalent of the ICC Trophy, where the second division international teams play each other every other year (I think) with qualification for the World Cup etc at stake for the top couple of teams.

Something similar in Rugby could eliminate some of the mismatches (I honestly fear for the physical well-being of the Portugal team in Saturday's game with the All Blacks) while giving the likes of Namibia, Tonga and Romania the chance to play together against decent (but not overwhelming) opposition and improve their all-round game.

And if someone can make the Tri-Nations see sense and admit Argentina too, common sense may yet reign...

  • 27.
  • At 01:48 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Dylan wrote:

The IRB should consider adding more localised annual tournaments to the calendar.

We have the Six Nations for Western Europe, and the Tri-Nations is well established in the southern hemisphere - even if the countries themselves are geographically quite a distance apart.

So why not invest in an annual Americas tournament, an African tournament, a Pacific Rim tournament.. All would have a good mix of keen second-tier nations taking part - building experience and exposure all the time.

I think the format of a regular, annual competition between a handful of nations is the best blueprint to follow. It creates the passion, rivalries and banter that are so much part of the world of Rugby. I'm not keen on the idea of adding more and more nations to the existing competitions - that would just dilute the interest.

They could look at tournaments in Asia/Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Carribean. Perhaps a second European tournament for IRB-affiliated nations that miss out on attention from the IRB such as Denmark, Germany and Spain.

I think the key is simply to get countries playing each other regularly in tournaments. You'll get fans involved and develop the experience and depth of your player base.

  • 28.
  • At 01:48 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ray B wrote:

Was the idea of having a two-tier world cup the whole basis of England's proposal for the 2007 bid.

IRB must put more money in the direction of the smaller nations to allow them to develop. Teams outside the top 10 will never improve without the chance to play against the top nations. From what I've seen USA and Canada seem to have benefited from the Churchill Cup games.

  • 29.
  • At 03:01 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • hellasbob wrote:

Agree with Ray B. (28) comment about the Churchill Cup seeming to improve USA / Canada. This seems to be a competition taken on by England in particular. Don't you think that other 6 Nations or Tri-nations teams could take on the responsibility for including other teams in other events like this.

I would also add though that there is a big difference between the position where these teams are now and actually winning the matches. As far as I can see none of the results were really in doubt - England / Ireland had the games under control but drifted in the second half, Wales came back way too strongly for Canada. When it comes to the crunch there's still a big gulf to bridge.

  • 30.
  • At 03:30 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Sheldon wrote:

Comment 20 is truly ridiculous and elitist. These 2nd and 3rd tier countries do not have the finances to start their own tournaments, and would require the backing of the IRB to get access to their players. Access to players is a major issue and one that the IRB have to lead - how many times has Oriol Ripol played for Spain or has he ever? Why do the IRB allow France to steal Moroccans - Benazzi, and Georgians - Yachvili, and the Antipodeans literally 'rape' the pacific islands of all their best talent. The major tier 1 countries have adopted a completely self-centred approach. One option would be for the IRB to get the tier 1 nations to adopt tier 2 and 3 nations - help them with coaching, tours, tournaments, training facilities. Leaving the Pumas out as they have severe financial problems - the original 8 plus Italy could adopt 3 nations. For example NZ could adopt Samoa, Uruguay and Belgium. It's time the IRB started thinking more creatively.

  • 31.
  • At 03:40 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Patrick Connolly wrote:

Something I was concerned about in the Namibia match was the lack of black players as well as Ireland's poor performance - The Namibia team looked like a white South African team wearing different jerseys, with a few very honorable exceptions. Is the population of Namibia mainly white?

  • 32.
  • At 03:44 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Sidney wrote:

I wonder if the 'powers that be' have ever considered running a second, lesser trophy within the World Cup, a plate, which those that finish 3rd and 4th can progress.

It'd give the 'lesser' teams more competition plus it'd allow them to play against teams of a similar ability, but aslo still allow them to have the big games that they need to generate interest.

I also thiunk that the 6 Nations could benefit from a similar 2 tier structure, with the Bottom 2 teams having to play the top two of the 2nd tier to decide who plays in tier one and who plays in tier 2.

I accept that it means more games, but if it were structered properly i'm sure it'd allow the game to develop in the lower ranked countries.

  • 33.
  • At 03:50 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Sion wrote:

I agree that the minnows need a helping hand and more regular, meaningfull competition but I guess the stumbling block is, as always, money. Would these 2nd tier events make any? Is there a big enough audience watching back home in Georgia , Namibia , Tonga etc? or would they need financial backing from the bigger unions?

From what I understand the IRB and most home unions are pretty strapped for cash. Would there be enough money to go round or would something have to give ; Lions tours, BaaBaa's etc??

(Just a thought but why not invite a NH and SH lions/BaaBaa's type team into the competition to boost interest and thereby increase revenue)

  • 34.
  • At 04:14 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Sidney wrote:

Comment 30 - I beleive that Dimitri Yachvili is allowed to play for France as he was born there, as was his father, Michel who was himself a French International.

Grégoire Yachvili is Dimitri's brother,and chose to play for Georgia because their paternal grandfather was Georgian, I beleive that he was stationed in France in WWII, or he may have been a POW or something.

The 2 brothers may play against each other when teh two teams meet, although i don't know if Grégoire Yachvili is actually in Georgia's WC squad

  • 35.
  • At 04:54 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • bodge wrote:

Re the physical risk off the minnows playing the "superpowers" couple points first what is the cut of as to whether you can play a big team or not. 2ndly how can the minnows progress ie italy & argie? third the privilage of playing a big team would outway any risk of injury?
you would lose the potential for upsets and finally the minnows have rarely been physically destoyed with major injuries (as a prop if i'm against a weaker opposition i turn the screw but know when there is too big a difference and becoming dangerous so i back off, still winning but not putting 100%. In fact in this tournament the mnnows have matched the big teams on physical brute

  • 36.
  • At 05:53 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • mwupete wrote:

I just read through this entire thread and I wish some of you had influence at the IRB! Some fantastic ideas. I think the USA and Canada would benefit from some sort of Pacific Rim 6 Nations with Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Japan (much more benefit than they get from Canada pounding the US regularly). They also seem to be helped by playing the B sides of the powerhouse nations.

One problem that can't be helped is the geographic distances. It's a long way to go to get a meaningful match. Buenos Aires is an 11 hour flight from Miami; Vancouver and Los Angeles are a long way from Tokyo. But it will have to be done if the North Americans, South Americans (excepting Argentina) and the Pacific island nations want to reach the next level.

  • 37.
  • At 06:00 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Phil Tolhurst wrote:

I'd just like to add that awarding the world cup to NZ and not Japan was a bad move as well!


  • 38.
  • At 06:55 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • R wrote:

Comment 30 is apparently unaware that all iRB nations have international regional bodies too. and that funding is provided at both the national level and regional level.
In North America for instance, the US and Canada are members of NAWIRA, which also represents all rugby playing nations in the Caribbean basin and even as far as Bermuda. NAWIRA gets funding each year for tournaments and for regional coach and referee development. The national unions get funding for local development and access to iRB and NAWIRA technical help.
Mexico was welcomed into NAWIRA about a year ago, and has completed in the 2007 Caribbean tournaments. (or at least the sevens, the 15s was cancelled for hurricane Dean).
The regional tournaments include all nations eligible, but for instance the last World Cup NAWIRA tournament included the US and the 'minnows' though Canada had pre-qualified by another route so missed the fun. The Winners of the regional tournaments then usually play the regional tier 2 nations for RWC places.

  • 39.
  • At 07:01 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

In response to Dylan (no.27), most of these competitions already exist! It's just that we don't hear about them here in Britain...Have a look at the IRB website or national websites and you'll find annual tournaments in Africa (10 team cup and 16 team 2nd tier cup), Asia (a 7-division annual cup), the Pacific, South America (similar to Africa, a 4 team cup inc. Argentina, and another for smaller nations) and Europe! (look at the fira-aer website).

  • 40.
  • At 07:23 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • InSidious wrote:

By losing to Kenya earlier in the year, it is by no means a certain indication that the the game is down in Namibia but perhaps the Eas Africans are well on their way to a major force in rugby within the region. Time will tell.

  • 41.
  • At 12:54 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Bethold wrote:

Responding to comment 31 written by Patric; Look Patrick I really don't know wether you are ignorant or lack something, but the truth is, Why is the USA basketball team consist of all black players? Why is it ok for South Africa to have all white players and not ok for Namibians to do the same? Our national soccer team consist mostly of black players. Why? because White Namibians are not interesting in soccer and the few that are are not good enough as the black players and this is the case in Namibia rugby as well. We in Namibia get along just fine so don't try to pull our peaceful nation into your hidden agendas. We don't politicise our sport codes.

  • 42.
  • At 04:29 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Arran wrote:

I am Canadian. In Canda rugby is played at an amateur level. Canada are minnows in the worldcup, but look at the results against Wales! I think The IRB should put more Money into getting us "minnows" better high performance programs and expanding the sport in our countries. As we all know rugby is about the passion of sport and I believe any Country in the world Can Contribute to this.

  • 43.
  • At 05:03 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Lomu for PM wrote:

There have been several games in this world cup that will have the rugby-watching audience sit up and take note. The Namibians were galant against the Irish and I really enjoyed their victory lap and the response they got from the crowd.

I'm not interested in all the politics of rugby. I think the competition is fine in it's current format. At least the so-called 'Minnows' really enjoy the occasion for what it is and lift their game, which is something several of the northern hemisphere teams have been guilty of not doing so far in this world cup.

  • 44.
  • At 05:38 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • pumasfan wrote:

Argentina seems to be the not standard case. (Where a hell do we put the Argies? 6+1 * (3+2)^2 - ranking/10 + TV audience/match )

How Pumas became a top 10 team (nice to be 4th by now, but we should better be realistics) playing only test matches from time to time?

The base is competitive local tournaments and a lot of clubs strongly committed with the spirit of the game doing their very best providing teaching and coaching from the very beginning. (Argentine clubs are doing this since 1899)

Players are formed from their childhood and their early stages are, by far, the most important.

Of course higher level competition will improove performance but Argentina case makes it clear that you can also improove yourself by other means.

It is also clear that England and France, for instance, were of great help hosting argentine players in their Club Rugby allowing several of them to fill the gap up to top level professional rugby. But obviouslly they didn´t showed up from the nothing.

More international engagement will help everybody but, in the long term, it will only be usefull if local country unions are able to provide a healthier and more and more competitive path to this wonderfull game to more and more kids.

Don´t they do the same to breed the talent and the bravery in the top 9 (+/-*ln(x) 1) nations?

I really think that the IRB main concern should be to support local unions in their job to improove themselves. Educational and training activities for players, coachs, referees, tc., etc. ... would be great.
Only a few would say no to some finnantial support.

Sorry for my english and good luck to all of you and enjoy the WC!!

  • 45.
  • At 10:59 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Jemima Beukes wrote:

Absolutely beautiful , Namibians we are definitely having it no doubt about it. It is proven that we have what it takes to be champions. Well done, you all. Thank you for the proud moments and the goosebumps and and teary eyed moments infront of the television .
Namibia are proud to have you...

  • 46.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Joseph Jackson wrote:

I think that if we start to seperate the teams into two world cupos, we will start to get two different froms of the game. I have been thoroughly impressed with how the 'minor' teams have been playing. I know Japan got thrashed by Australia, but I was still very impressed with the way that they played. These teams know that they will not win, but it gives them great pride and experience in playing against the bigger teams. If you were to try to seperate the hopefuls from the non-hopefuls in two different world cups, it would be like alow blow, and saying that we are looking down at the teams as greater nations of rugby.

And anyway the worldcup only happens once every four years, the build up and the qualifying gives teams good experience to progress.

Good luck to everyone.....come on the springbokes

  • 47.
  • At 03:31 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • KJ wrote:

In answer to the question that was posed yesterday on the web site "how many points is it possible to score in 80 minutes of rugby union", I happen to know that the answer to this is 221-0!! That is how much San José beat Rio de Janeiro in Brazil's Serie A last year (a world record, can't be far off it!!). How I know this is I was playing in the second row for Rio de Janeiro!!

Good luck to the minnows I say, they deserve to be there as much as anyone. World rugby has to focus on growing the game in the these countries of the world, and not making the rich richer. At the moment the world cup is the only chance the minor nations have to play against the best and be seen on the world stage and that is what gets people interested in countries where rugby is a huge minority sport.

I agree with pumasfan, more meaningful international competition is what is needed to grow the game outside of the major nations. And on that note, how much longer can Argentina go without being allowed into either the six nations or the tri nations?? Biennial trips to Buenos Aires for Argentina vs Scotland, now that would be a tour!!

Good luck to all teams at the world cup, and maybe a minnow can cause an upset!! Scotland vs All Blacks on Sunday week maybe, I can but dream.....!!

  • 48.
  • At 04:09 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Hall wrote:

As with one of the other comments, a lot of the other tournaments exist. The Pacific Nations play each other and the Junior ABs and Aus A. There used to be a Pacific Rim competition but it was not financially viable. There are proper international competitions in most geographical areas. The IRB have put in funding to the "minnows": you can see this in the performances of Portugal, US, Namibia, Georgia so far.

The problems however are threefold: (a) there is no money from TV or sponsors or advertising for these other competitions;
(b) European and Tri Nation club and Super 14 sides put pressure on their players from minor countries not to play internationals - this makes it very difficult to get the best representative side out (witness recent tours of Europe by Samoa, Fiji, etc.). Usually the one or two professionals are the ones who aren't allowed to turn out;
(c) Tri and VI Nations teams are (with some honourable exceptions) reluctant to tour minor nations: witness the Tri Nations expanding by having a third game between each team rather than invited Argentina and/or the Pacific Nations combined team.

Additionally, the Pacific nations have for a long time had their best players poached by NZ (and others) - there have bee players who have refused to play for Samoa or Tonga as they were waiting to be eligible for NZ. If they said they wanted to play for NZ they stood a better chance of a Super 14 contract. Better prospects for the players and their livelihood, but not for the nations.

  • 49.
  • At 04:37 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Rugby does absolutely nothing to develop the game outside its core constituency. Where are the likes of Samoa and Canada going? They have talent and enthusiasm but neither have a structured competition to play in. The IRB should learn from FIFA who have made football the global game, or otherwise rugby will remain the parochial minority sport that it is currently.

  • 50.
  • At 05:02 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

I don't think that there needs to be a two tier world cup as such, there is nothing wrong with the cup as we have at the moment, but it could be supplemented with a separate tournament an amateur cup if you will along similar lines, but to qualify for said tournament your team needs to be amateur (rules could be set as to the maximum number of pros allowed in the squad.

  • 51.
  • At 02:44 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

Being namibian I enjoyed the teams performance agaist Ireland and France in the World Cup. What sucked most was the referees I think...

Here are guys playing with the whole world writting them off only to be disadvantaged some more by the ref's.

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