Welwitschias in the Vodacom Cup
In 2010, Namibia participated in the South African Vodacom Cup competition for the first time in eight years, following successful negotiations between the NRU and the South African Rugby Union.
The NRU used the competition to groom local based players in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and although the Welwitschias suffered some big defeats and did not perform too well, the tough competition certainly helped raise their standard for the World Cup.
Second last in 2010
In 2010 the Welwitschias finished second last in their group after winning only one match, while losing five.
They started off with a 45-26 home defeat to the Griffons after trailing 25-17 at halftime. The Welwitschias staged a fine second half comeback, narrowing the deficit to only two points, before the Griffons pulled away for a comfortable win. The Welwitschias’ young fullback Chrysander Botha, had a great match with a personal haul of 21 points.
They were thrashed 52-11 by the Leopards in Potchefstroom, but gave a much better display against Griquas in Windhoek, where they suffered a narrow 29-27 defeat.
Griquas seemed set for an easy victory after taking a 17-6 lead at halftime, but they had to defend for all their worth after a great second half comeback by the Welwitschias, who scored three tries through centre Bradley Langenhoven, prop Johnny Redelinghuys and prop Jane du Toit.
The Welwitschias finally clicked into gear when they recorded a great 66-35 victory against the Falcons in Windhoek on March 19.
The Falcons were still in with a chance trailing 26-23 early in the second half, but the Welwitschias stepped up the tempo to run in 10 tries in a scintillating display of attacking rugby.
Left wing Heini Bock scored three tries while fullback Chrysander Botha had a haul of 19 points, consisting of a try and seven conversions.
That was however their only victory of the season as they lost their final group matches 58-34 to the Blue Bulls on April 10 and 51-20 to the Golden Lions a week later.
Fullback Chrysander Botha finished the competition as the third highest points scorer with a total of 80 points at an average of 11,42 points per match, while he was joint sixth on the try scorers list with five tries.
Rock bottom in 2011
In 2011 the Welwitschias finished rock bottom of the North Section log after managing only one draw and losing seven of their eight group matches.
In their opening matches they were competitive at home, losing 25-5 to the Sharks and 29-13 to the Free State, but suffered big defeats on the road, going down 47-12 to the EP Kings and 56-9 to Western Province.
On April 2, the Welwitschias seemed on course for their first victory against Border in Windhoek, but they squandered a 12-point lead and eventually had to settle for a 20-20 draw.
The Welwitschias took a 20-8 lead midway through the first half after tries by Tinus du Plessis from a driving maul and David Philander from a counterattacking backline move, with Chrysander Botha adding 12 points with the boot.
But a lack of concentration and defensive errors saw them letting in two tries in the final five minutes as Border tied the match with the last kick of the match.
That’s as good as it got as they were thrashed in their final two matches, losing 71-33 to the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington, while they lost 52-10 to the Pumas in Windhoek on April 15.
Although the Welwitschias’ performances were not up to standard, a lack of depth in key positions contributed to their defeats.
Due to a complete lack of adequate props, coach Johan Diergaardt had to recruit two props from New Zealand in Raymond Dobson and Errol Weston. Weston did not stay long, returning to New Zealand after a few matches, but Dobson made a good impact and added a lot of stability in the scrums.
There was also a lack of depth at flyhalf and after first choice Jacky Bock became injured, regular fullback Chrysander Botha was moved to flyhalf.
Despite the poor results, there were once again good all round performances from PJ van Lill, Tinus du Plessis, Nico Esterhuizen and Heinz Koll in the pack, and Chrysander Botha and David Philander in the backline.