'Priceless opportunity' for Namibia against All Blacks

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On Sunday, they meet the reigning world champions, the All Blacks, a side they also played four years ago at the World Cup. Coming from a country with only 900 players it is a huge challenge.

 

Coach Phil Davies (pictured) said playing the All Blacks was a daunting prospect for his side but his players believed it was a priceless opportunity.

 

"Our players are discovering that against teams such as South Africa and the All Blacks, the speed and physicality of the game is at a different level, particularly at the breakdown where you are trying to get quick ball to execute plays or a kicking strategy,' he told rugbyworldcup.com.

 

Namibia haven't been totally hidden from the world game. With support from World Rugby they had played in Nations Cup tournaments in Romania and Uruguay while some of their players had appeared in Currie Cup and Super Rugby in South Africa.

 

That ensured this year's Namibian side was better prepared than it had ever been for a World Cup.

 

"However, you cannot replicate playing in a cauldron against the very best teams whose ability to execute their skills under pressure offers a big learning curve for our players," he said.

"We try to replicate that in training but the real thing is always a significant step up and what the Namibian players can now do is take these experiences back with them to their clubs," he said.

 

The key thing then was for club coaches to be prepared to use the information those players brought back to them.

 

Davies said it was hoped numbers playing the game in Namibia, which has a population of 2.5million, would be up around 3-4000 by the time of the 2023 World Cup in France.

 

World Rugby support had ensured a high performance centre was available in Namibia, he said, and it was also the base for the country's national rugby academy.

 

A development plan was necessary and as part of their goals the Namibian rugby administration needed to increase the number of top clubs from six to 10 while also introducing a Sevens programme.

 

Sponsorship and increasing the number of Level Three coaches was also important and, given the progress made in the past four years, Davies believed it could be done.

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