THE Namibia Rugby Union's preparations are on track and the cancellation of the friendly match against the Lions, which was supposed to have taken place in Windhoek on Saturday, was a 'blessing in disguise.'
This was the view of Namibia Rugby Union CEO Sybrand de Beer, who said it did not make sense to play the match at this stage, at a press conference yesterday.
"We already informed the Lions about the postponement in January but they just announced it last week."
"The initial idea was that the Lions friendly would be a warm-up match for the Vodacom Cup series, but since we are not playing in the competition now, it would not make sense to play the match at this stage," he said.
"However, the match has not been cancelled, it has just been postponed, and we hope to play the Lions some time in May, before the CAR Africa 1B Championships take place in Senegal in June," he added.
Namibia will have to win the tournament in Senegal to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for their fifth successive World Cup, but De Beer said their preparations were on track.
"Our national training group has been doing conditioning and training as part of the High Performance Programme since January, so this is the time to work on their fitness. When they start playing competitively their fitness levels will be higher than in previous seasons, and then we will focus on match practice," he said.
Namibia's first match will now take place on March 2 when Namibia A will play Easterns in a friendly match at the Hage Geingob Stadium.
De Beer said Easterns would provide strong competition, but that just local-based Namibian players will play in the match.
"Easterns have about six Puma players in their team so they should provide strong competition. We want to give our local-based players match practice so that's why it will not be a national side but a Namibian A side," he said.
In the main curtain-raiser match Namibia U20 will play against a Namibian Invitation side, to help the junior team prepare for the World Rugby Trophy competition in Chile in May.
Meanwhile, the local rugby league will start with the new NRU Regional Competition on March 16.
Six regional teams will compete in the competition which will be held throughout Namibia over four weekends - in Walvis Bay on March 16, in Keetmanshoop on April 6, in Grootfontein on April 13 and in Windhoek or Rehoboth on April 20. The final venue still has to be confirmed.
The regional teams will be made up of the following clubs:
North (Etosha) - Oshakati Rugby Club, Tsumeb Rugby Club, Grootfontein Rugby Club, Otjiwarongo Rugby Club.
West (Erongo) - Kudus, Erongo Academy, Walvis Bay Rugby Club, Dolphins Rugby Club.
Central First League (Auas): Polytechnic, Windhoek Rugby Club, Jaguars, CATS.
Central Premier 1 (Khomas): United, Western Suburbs, Wanderers, Unam.
Central Premier 2 (Hardap): Rehoboth Rugby Club, Reho Falcon Rugby Club, Mariental Rugby Club.
South (Karas): Ocean Swallows, Keetmanshoop Rugby Club, Rosh Pinah Rugby Club, Oranjemund Rugby Club.
De Beer said the idea of the Regional Competition was to develop rugby in the regions while also to look for new talent.
"The objective of the regional competition is to develop rugby in the regions by attracting and retaining rugby players and spectators. The regional competition will also serve as national trials and will thus feed the national teams to ensure we have the best players identified and involved in the high performance programme," he said.