Preview: South Africa v Namibia
WORLD CUP POOL MATCH: There was a time when Namibia was called South West Africa and was administered as a part of South Africa.
It played its rugby in South Africa’s domestic competitions and its players were eligible to play for South Africa.
Then as Georgia did to Russia, Namibia gained independence and nation status, and its rugby left South Africa as well.
That was in 1990.
The Springboks will not be able to use Afrikaans as their secret means of communication, as, though English may be the official language of Namibia, Afrikaans remains the language of rugby in the country.
Look at the two teams and it will appear from the names that something like 30 of the players could well be Afrikaans-speakers.
This match is Brother versus Brother, Broer versus Broer.
Not that the teams are on an equal footing in terms of strength.
Whereas South Africa will play against New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, the B&I Lions, the Four Home Unions and France, Namibia will play against Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire with an occasional match against somebody higher up the rugby ladder.
South Africa qualifies for the World Cup in its own right; Namibia had to qualify as Africa’s Qualifier, which they did by beating Senegal.
Players to Watch
After that magnificent try against Italy, Chad Plato on the right wing for Namibia is certainly worth watching – a slender, speedy will-o-the-wisp.
Then there is the tall captain, lock Tjiuee Uanivi from Otjiwarongo who has played rugby in Scotland, France, South Africa (Sharks) and England. Cliven Loubser is a neat flyhalf.
Many eyes will be on Schalk Brits, the hooker picked at No.8 and captaining the side at the age of 38. There is something special about the smiling man with the dancing feet and positive personality, and few would doubt that he could play No.8 and could have been doing so for a long time. When he was a schoolboy at Paul Roos, Ian Kirkpatrick, the great South African coach, advised Brits that he should change from hooker to centre, believing that the young man could become another Danie Gerber. Brits stayed hooking.
Brits will not be South Africa’s oldest captain. That is Victor Matfield, South Africa’s oldest player ever at the time of his retirement in 2015. When he captained the Springboks for the 23rd and last time against the Pumas that year he was 38 years and 172 days old. On Saturday, when he leads the Springboks out onto the field, Brits will be 38 years and 124 days old.
But there are several other Springboks that you will see, like elusive Sibusiso Nkosi who scored those wonderful tries against the Pumas recently, try-thief Herschel Jantjies, who needs to keep his head down when passing, all-action Albertus Smith and colossal Lodewyk de Jager and several others.
Coach Erasmus has given all of his squad a chance to play but he has kept a powerful bench. Namibia must be hoping that they are left on the bench!
The two sides have seldom met. Before 1990, Namibia fell into the same category as Boland and the Springboks have never played Boland. Not even in 1985, when the Springboks went on a four-match internal tour, did they play against provinces.
There have been two World Cup-related matches in the past.
In 2007, the Springboks played a warm-up match against Namibia before heading off to win the World Cup in France and in 2011 South Africa and Namibia was in the same pool and met in a pool match in North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, almost exactly eight years ago.
2011: South Africa won 87-0, Albany (World Cup pool match)
2007: South Africa won 105-13, Cape Town
In 2007, the Springboks scored 15 tries. Eugene Jantjies came on as a substitute in that match. This week he is in the starting team.
In 2011, the Springboks scored 10 tries. One of the try-scorers was Frans Steyn who will be back playing against Namibia this weekend. Francois Louw and Tendai Mtawarira came on as substitutes and will be starting this week. Durable Eugene Jantjies started then and will start again this weekend.
On those two occasions, playing the match was more important than the score which was always going to be high. That could have been the case this weekend were it not for Brighton in 2015, and the ever-present memory of what Japan did. There may just be a niggle in the mind: Could Namibia do what Japan did?
At this World Cup, both sides have played – and lost – a match.
The Springboks leaked 17 points in five minutes and lost 13-23 to powerful New Zealand.
Namibia lost to 22-47 to Italy, and was thought to have played with great spirit.
Their World Cup histories tell a story.
South Africa has been to six World Cups, winning two and coming third twice
Namibia has been to six World Cups without winning a match.
Prediction: The Springboks will win comfortably. The margin of victory will be decided by how they play – whether sticking to structures with the eye on the future or whether they will set their talent free. For all that, the men from the big, dry country with a population of under three million, will give only of their very best. Brothers do that when they compete.
Namibia: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 Jacobus Greyling, 12 PJ Walters, 11 Lesley Klim, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Adriaan Booysen, 7 Muharua Katjijeko, 6 Thomasau Forbes, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), 4 Johan Retief, 3 AJ De Klerk, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Desiderius Sethie.
Replacements: 16 Obert Nortjé, 17 André Rademeyer, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Prince Gaoseb, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Wian Conradie, 22 Helarius Kisting, 23 Johan Deysel.
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Schalk Brits (captain), 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
Date: Saturday, 28 September 2019
Venue: City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota City
Kick-off: 18.45 (09.45 GMT; 11.45 SA time; 11.45 Namibia time)
Expected weather: Mainly sunny with rain at night, a high of 27°C, dropping to 21°C
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)