The Namibian Rugby Team is currently at the 2023 Rugby World Cup at their base in Aix-la-Bain. They had managed to qualify for the Rugby World Cup again – and that is, in and of itself, an achievement. After a great build-up, characterized by loads of positivity, fan participation and a real feeling that something special was on the way – we have, well, come down to earth with a bit of a bang. Make no mistake – I, like most Namibians, remain fiercely loyal to the team, but we have to be honest : the 52-8 result against Italy in the opening match was disappointing. Most Namibians had hoped for at least a closer result. And, to be fair, the scoreboard does not tell the whole story of what happened on the pitch, but it is the only measure by which history will judge the result, because the scoreline is that which is recorded.
In statistics that were released by World Rugby after the first round, there were many positives that the Namibian fans as well as the team and coaching group can take from this match. Like, for example, the fact that in round one Namibia turned over opposition ball nine times (second highest of all games played in round one), Or that they managed to clear the ball from rucks in 58% of rucks in less than 3 seconds (the second highest of all teams in round one). Damian Stevens, the Namibian starting scrumhalf, passed the ball 61 times in the 58 minutes he was on the pitch – the highest pass rate of any player in round one. These are good stats that can be built on. But there were also some very poor stats. In the match against Italy, Namibia missed 42 tackles – that’s right, 42. The worst stat of all the games in the first round – with missed tackle stats like that you will not win any games. And to put it in perspective, they missed more tackles that Romania who lost by almost 80 points to Ireland! Again, there will be an explanation, because there always is. Sometimes more than one. For example, did the Namibians miss most tackles in the second half because they were simply not fit enough? I’m not saying, just asking… These are the serious, and sometimes unpleasant questions that Allister Coetzee and his coaching staff will have to address. The next opponent that the Namibians face is New Zealand. Yes, the mighty All Blacks. Missed tackle stats will be hugely important against them, and unless there is a significant improvement in tackling and defence in general, there will be an unpleasant scoreline for Namibian fans to have to face.
We remain loyal, we support the team to the hilt, and will remain so. They are Namibia’s best and we are proud of them…but still we dream of that first victory…
Please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you agree, disagree or have a comment.