Namibia's big missed opportunity
REACTION: Namibia’s head coach Allister Coetzee says had they secured their first-ever win at a World Cup it could have had the same impact on them as Japan’s stunning win over South Africa in 2015 had on the Asian country.
Namibia’s campaign came to an end with Wednesday’s 26-36 defeat at the hands of Uruguay and the players will be gone by Saturday – a week before the pool stages reach their climax.
Coetzee sees promising signs that Namibia can build on for the 2027 edition in Australia, though, they will have to qualify first.
However, they return home having scored just 37 points while shipping 255 in their four pool matches.
Arguably what their campaign will be remembered for is the brutal tackle by captain Johan Deysel on France talisman Antoine Dupont which fractured the latter’s cheekbone.
Coetzee, though, preferred to look at the squad as a whole when he spoke on Thursday as the players that remained prepared for a return to their base in Aix-les-Bains.
The 60-year-old said he had fired up his players prior to kick-off against Uruguay in Lyon by instilling in them what a win would mean for Namibian rugby.
“What I did was just to rekindle why it was important to get the win,” he said.
“It wasn’t just for this group but to change the landscape of rugby in Namibia, and that was really important.
“The big thing is the belief and I was just trying to punt the belief since we got here.
“Things happened in Brighton with Japan’s 34-32 win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
“The whole thing with Japanese rugby took it to another level after beating the Boks.
“That was something I was trying to emulate here and hoping it could do the same with Namibian rugby.”
Hosts Japan went on to reach the quarterfinals in 2019 beating Ireland and Scotland in the pool stages, and still entertain hopes of repeating that feat in France.
Coetzee, who had an underwhelming spell as Springboks coach from 2016-18, said it is crucial the Namibians get more exposure to top level rugby if they are to build on the progress they made in the World Cup.
“There is a sense that it is a step in the right direction, the way we have played and what we have achieved in a short time,” he said.
“The last two months have been the equivalent of the amount of Test matches we have played over four years.
“We played three in [South America, including] Uruguay in Montevideo and four here – seven Test matches.
“This national team has played eight matches in four years and we have done that this year in three months.
“It shows that if we can get the necessary test matches, we will be much better prepared for the next one.”