Confederation of African Rugby
Namibia makes its mark in Africa
Namibia has made its mark on the African continent as the second strongest rugby nation after South Africa.
The Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) introduced the CAR Cup for African nations in 2000 and over the following decade Namibia won the title three times.
2002 CAR Cup champions
Their first title came in 2002 when they beat Tunisia by the narrowest of margins in a two-legged final. The tournament also doubled up as the African qualification competition for the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
In the group matches Namibia thrashed Madagascar 112-0 which still stands as Namibia’s biggest ever victory in international rugby. They also beat Zimbabwe 42-30 in Bulawayo to finish top of Pool B and qualify for the final against the Pool A winners Tunisia.
In the first leg final in Windhoek on 30 November 2002, Namibia beat Tunisia 26-19.
A week later Tunisia beat Namibia 24-17 in Tunis, resulting in an extraordinary 43-43 tie on aggregate. Namibia however won the tie by scoring 4 tries to 3 to book their spot for the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
2004 CAR Cup champions
Namibia won the CAR Cup for the second time in 2004 when they beat Morocco 39-22 in the final in Windhoek on November 13. The match however was remembered more for foul play as Morocco came with the clear intention to intimidate Namibia from the start. At the first scrum Namibian prop Kees Lensing received a blood nose from a punch, and the game later deteriorated as several fights broke out intermittently.
In the second half Namibian flanker Schalk van der Merwe and lock Johan Theron left the field with bloodied faces, while the referee handed out a total of two red cards and four yellow cards.
But despite all the disruptions Namibia stayed focussed and fully deserved their victory.
Their pack did a great job as they gradually overpowered the Moroccans, while the loose trio of Herman Lintvelt, Jacques Burger and Schalk van der Merwe was outstanding.
Namibia’s tries were scored by scrumhalf Jurie van Tonder (two), fullback Hendrik Meyer, flanker Herman Lintvelt an replacement flanker Michael McKenzie. Flyhalf Morne Schreuder added 14 points with the boot.
2009 Africa Cup champions
Namibia won the Africa Cup (the CAR Cup was renamed the Africa Cup in 2006) for the third time when they beat Tunisia in a two legged final in 2009 to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The tournament started off with qualifying matches in 2008 and Namibia finished top of Pool A after beating Senegal 13-10 in Dakar on June 14 2008 and Zimbabwe 35-21 in Windhoek on 2 August 2008.
In the semifinals, Namibia came up against the Ivory Coast and struggled to a 13-all draw in a rainy Abidjan on June 14.
In the return leg however they put in a classy display to comprehensively beat the Ivory Coast 54-14 a fortnight later. After holding a narrow 16-9 lead at halftime, the floodgates opened in the second half as Namibia ran in seven tries for an emphatic victory.
Fullback Chrysander Botha had a haul of 29 points, including two tries, while the forward pack and especially the loose trio of Tinus du Plessis, Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Jacques Burger was superb.
In a two-legged final, Namibia beat Tunisia 18-13 in Windhoek on November 28 and then won the return leg 22-10 in Tunisia a fortnight later to win the final 40-23 on aggregate. The match was also the final African qualifier for the Rugby World Cup with the result that Namibia booked their place for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
In the return leg in Windhoek, the match was still wide open at halftime with Tunisia holding a narrow 10-9 lead. But the visitors’ discipline let them down as they were continuously penalised for offside and ruck infringements, and Namibian flyhalf Emile Wessels took full advantage, scoring 17 points with the boot, while Tinus du Plessis scored Namibia’s only try.