PARIS, Sept. 4 — Namibia is gearing up to end its prolonged quest for a Rugby World Cup victory as they prepare to compete in the 2023 tournament in France. Despite being a regular participant in the competition, the southern African nation has never clinched a win on the World Cup stage.
In Pool A, Namibia faces formidable opponents, including tournament hosts France, former champions New Zealand, and Italy. Nonetheless, Namibia’s coach, Allister Coetzee, is optimistic about his team’s chances, citing their unwavering spirit and determination as key assets.
Coetzee remarked, “The never-say-die attitude of the team has really been a standout point for me. None of the games started well, but we finished strongly and came back. That is something you cannot coach, to question the ‘why’ of the team. That positive attitude is there, and hopefully, we can take it into the World Cup as well.”
Namibia boasts a squad with several seasoned players, including lock PJ van Lill, competing in his fourth World Cup, and captain Johan Deysel, making his third appearance. The team has also received a boost from the addition of flanker Richard Hardwick, who represented Australia in two Tests in 2017 but has since switched allegiances.
Born in Namibia but raised in Perth, Hardwick plays Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels. Reflecting on his decision, he said, “I just took things into my own hands. There are a few things in my life that I’d love to accomplish before retiring, so the opportunity came up last year in November to go over and play for Namibia and potentially get a crack at a World Cup, so I wasn’t going to wait around.”
With their positive attitude and strong team spirit, Namibia hopes to leave their mark on the World Cup in France. If they can perform to their potential, they may surprise observers and secure their first-ever World Cup victory.