Rugby World Cup 2011

Namibia take swipe at schedule

2011-09-26 13:51
Jacques Burger (File)

New Plymouth - Namibia exited the Rugby World Cup on Monday after losing all four of their Pool D matches, albeit within a punishing schedule of 16 days, something coach Johan Diergaardt branded as "unsuitable".

The southern Africans went down 81-7 in their final game against Wales on Monday, having previously lost to Fiji (49-25), Samoa (49-12) and South Africa (87-0), the latter on Thursday.

"It was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, not all the time in our favour," said Diergaardt, who returns to his job as a building contractor a day after his squad arrives back in Windhoek on Wednesday.

"It's hard to play South Africa on Thursday and then have to play Wales on Monday. The turnaround was not suitable, not the most positive thing. We also played Fiji and Samoa in the same sort of sequence."

Several of the "tier two" nations, like Namibia, have complained about their turnaround times between games - often only four days, which they say discriminates against them.

The top teams from the Six Nations and Tri-Nations tournaments in general have been accorded more time to recover between matches.

Rugby's global governing body, the IRB, said the match schedule took into account fan appeal, spread of matches across New Zealand and player welfare, as well as broadcast and commercial considerations.

Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted that Namibia's schedule had been "very tough" but that he was "only worried about myself".

"It's not my decision," Gatland said, adding that if Wales had been handed such a difficult timetable, he would have said: "Fine, take it on the chin and play".

Diergaardt added: "The short turnaround periods weren't good for us but the bottom line is we have to play more games at this level if we would like to be on the same stage.

"We can't just pitch up at the World Cup and compete at this level and be competitive.

"We were competitive in all the games until just after half-time and then it just fell apart. That's totally because of not playing on this stage.

"We have made some improvements since 2007 but other teams are improving, too. So, to keep up with them we have to improve and I think our rate of improvement at this stage is not good.

"In order for us to compete, we need to improve to a level where the other teams are."

Diergaardt expressed hope that some of his players would get overseas professional deals, something he said could only benefit Namibian rugby.

"We want more of our players playing professional and getting contracts because it means you get back into your Test teams better conditioning and better prepared teams," he said.

The coach highlighted the second 20 minutes of the first half, when Namibia prevented Wales from scoring, as a highlight of the tournament.

"It just showed what they are up to and what the players can do. Unfortunately you can't just do it for 20 minutes in a game, you have to do it for the full 80," he rued.

Number eight Jacques Nieuwenhuis also praised that 20-minute purple defensive patch, but said Wales were the classier side.

"The highlights of the tour for us were the times when we really played well but it's not enough. We are better than the score suggests. You lose concentration for 10 minutes and they (Wales) get 40 points.

"But we will take this experience and come back with a better Namibian team in 2015."

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