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Namibian rugby squad taking shape

Namibia’s national rugby squad completed a successful training camp last week where team-building was at the forefront. 

Most of Namibia’s foreign-based players formed part of the camp, while several more will arrive this week in preparation for a second training camp at Swakopmund from 13 to 20 July. 

National coach Allister Coetzee said the focus of the first camp wasmainly on team-building. 

“We focussed a lot on team building and it’s been a good start. The logistics have gone well and the players are really excited. The focus was on building a Namibian mindset, to build one national team, so we had various team building exercises where the players got to know each other better,” he said.

The squad spent a few days at Midgard Lodge before returning to Windhoek where they had some technical drills at the Hage Geingob National Stadium. 

Namibia national rugby coach Allister Coetzee interviewed at the first training camp on 01.07.23. Video: Helge Schütz

“When we left Midgard, I think we were a better connected group, so we could come to the field and then look at some of our systems. I think we had three field session sessions and some baseline testing, and although the condition is not where we want to be, it’s work in progress,” Coetzee said. 

“Some players are at the end of their seasons, so their conditioning has tapered down a bit, but we’ll have two to three weeks to pick that up again,” he added. 

Coetzee will now have to drop several players from the squad ahead of the second camp in Swakop next week and he said it was not easy. 

“It’s always going to be tough and there will always be some unlucky players who will not make it, but I suppose that’s my job, and the toughest job of any coach is to do that selection process. But as long as players understand where they are at and understand what they need to improve in terms of their skills set, the medical and fitness aspect, and the tactical and technical aspects. It’s about the best possible team that we would like to take to the World Cup who can execute and play the way we want to play, and the big thing for me in terms of selection is whether this guy is a team man, because the first value that we have in our culture is service, or the team first, so you take those kind of guys with you.”

“Then obviously, you must have a fit and well-conditioned player, because you’re playing against the world’s best at the World Cup. Then the third thing, obviously you look at experience as well. You know going to World Cups you can’t have a youngster. It’s great to have youngsters, but most teams at the World Cup, you’ll see the age and the number of caps they have, because they’ve been there, they’ve done it, they know how to operate under pressure, so experience is crucial,” he added. 

“And then you look at combinations and how have they played together, and a very important aspect is that we have to select versatile players. We are restricted to 33 players which is better than 31 but those extra two are mostly forwards. But then among the backs you must have a guy who can play wing, fullback or maybe centre, so versitality plays a big role,” he said.  

“Next week Wednesday Ill talk to a few players who might not go to the second camp – we’ve got three under 20 players here in the group and they are really doing well. If they perform well and its what we are looking for then surely they will go to the second camp and they could still play for a position at the Nations Cup as well,” he said. 

“Once a player drops out of the group, it’s not to say he’s out of it completely, because there is still a long way to go to the World Cup. We are unlike Tier One countries with a big pool of players, so each player that has joined up here will actually stay connected with us until we go to the World Cup,” he added.