SPAIN’S national rugby team arrived in Namibia over the weekend with one thing in mind and that is to win the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Rugby tournament.
The team put in its first training session at the Wanderers field yesterday morning under the guidance of their New Zealand coach Bryce Bevin who was only appointed national coach about three months ago. Bevin said they would be going all out to win the trophy.
“This is the platform where we are going to begin our road to the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015. This is our first time together so it’s incredibly important that we win these two matches,” he said.
“We’re coming to a different environment and the experience is going to be excellent for us later on. But having said that, I don’t want to leave here with two defeats – we must win and that’s the most important thing,” he added.
Bevin said there was not much difference between the three participating teams, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Spain.
“Namibia and Zimbabwe are quite close to us in the world rankings Namibia is ranked 22 and Zimbabwe 29, while we are 20, so there is not much of a difference and these three teams are very equal,” he said.
Bevin has brought in a lot of new players, while several professionals who play in France have not made the trip, but he said he had selected a strong team.
“We’ve had a few injuries and left a few guys behind but this is a strong team. The only thing that might be a problem is the experience levels of the new guys that have come in. There are a lot of players with no international caps, so they will be a little bit hesitant. But I am encouraging them to take the bull by the horns and to get stuck in and not to worry about international rugby, to just treat it as another game and go for it,” he said.
Namibia beat Zimbabwe 37-33 in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday and Bevin said both teams had good qualities.
“The teams showed two different styles of play. Obviously the Zimbabweans have a wonderful Sevens profile as well and they play in a fantastic, dynamic way, while the Namibians are very strong up front and they play a more controlled, structured game, but they also have the ability to play wide and play hard and fast. They are two teams with different profiles, so we will try and bring a plan for each game and play it according to the team and to the conditions,” he said.
Spain have only qualified for one Rugby World Cup in 1999, but their Sevens team has been more successful on the IRB Sevens circuit, and Bryce said the challenge now was to get their 15-man team up to the same level.
“Our Sevens men’s team are leading the way at international level. We need to improve the 15-man game and all the junior teams as well as the women’s team so that they can meet the standards that our Sevens men’s team have set. My job here will be a lot harder and it’s going to be a great challenge to get this 15-man team into the 2015 Rugby World Cup, because that’s where we want to go,” he said.
Spain’s first match is against Zimbabwe at 18h00 at the national rugby stadium tomorrow evening, while they take on Namibia next Saturday afternoon at the same venue.