RWC 2023: ‘Namibia doesn’t play enough against the big nations’, says Coetzee

The Namibians, who have once again failed in their dream of finally winning a World Cup match, will only be able to progress if they meet top-level teams more regularly, their coach Allister Coetzee warned the press on Thursday as the players prepared to return to their base camp in Aix-les-Bains.

“The last two months have been the equivalent of the number of test matches we’ve played in four years,” said the man who was also Springboks coach from 2016 to 2018.

“We played three times in South America, including Uruguay in Montevideo, and four times here, making seven test-matches,” Coetzee detailed.

“This selection had played eight matches in four years. We did the same this year in three months. This shows that if we could play enough test matches, we’d be much better prepared,” continued the sixty-year-old.

The campaign of Namibia, the 21st-ranked team in the world, ended with a 36-26 defeat by Uruguay on Wednesday, and the team will return home having scored just 37 points in four matches. At the same time, they conceded 255, including 96 in the famous match against France in which their captain Johan Deysel fractured Antoine Dupont’s cheekbone.

Coetzee, who sees promising signs that Namibia can build on for the 2027 edition of the World Cup in Australia, even if they’ll have to qualify first, also felt that if his team had won the first Rugby World Cup in their history, it could have had the same effect that Japan’s stunning win over South Africa during the 2015 World Cup had on the Japanese archipelago.

“It happened in Brighton with Japan’s 34-32 victory over South Africa. Japanese rugby has taken on a whole new level since then. I tried to emulate that and hoped it would be the same for Namibian rugby,” he said.

Japan subsequently reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup, which they hosted, beating Ireland and Scotland in the group stages.

The Japanese team is still hoping to repeat this feat in France.

“The most important thing is to have the conviction that it’s possible, and that’s what I’ve tried to instill since we arrived here,” explained Coetzee.

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