Namibia: Mensah to Challenge Africa Rugby

THE president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Corrie Mensah, on Wednesday expressed dismay at Africa Rugby's decision to award Kenya the right to host the u20 Barthes Cup for the next three years.

"It's an absolute setback for Namibian rugby. We were also asked to tender for one year, but now to find out that it has been awarded to Kenya for three years is quite a shock. I will send a letter to Rugby Africa to seek clarity about the situation, because we definitely did not have a three-year option, and we don't know on what grounds Kenya got it" he said.

Namibia's defeat to Kenya at the u20 Barthes Cup in Nairobi last year brought an end to their dominance in recent years after they had won the tournament from 2013 to 2018, and also saw Kenya qualifying for World Rugby Junior Trophy for the first time in 10 years.

Mensah said Africa Rugby's decision would be a big boost for Kenyan rugby.

"It will definitely strengthen Kenyan rugby, because they are difficult to beat at home and they beat us there last year to qualify for the Junior World Cup. It will also present a significant boost for their 2023 World Cup qualification campaign," he said.

Mensah recently returned from a meeting in London with World Rugby where the future of Tier 2 rugby nations was discussed but he said he was not allowed to comment about it.

"We are not allowed to talk to the media about it but World Rugby will make a statement about it tomorrow," he said on Wednesday.

"The aim is to help Tier 2 nations, to look at the competition model and try to organise more games and competitions, and it seems positive," he added.

Regarding the position of the national coach, Mensah said they will advertise it soon.

"The advert must be in the papers on Friday and it will also be on our social media pages. We are also advertising for the national u20 and Sevens coaches, as well as managers for these teams, he said."

"The coach's salary comes from our High Performance grant, but it is far too little to appoint a foreign coach. World Rugby can provide a specialist coach, but they normally only do that about two years before a World Cup," he added.

Regarding upcoming tournaments this year, Namibia will compete in the Africa Gold Cup which returns after a break last year, but the Welwitschias' participation in the South African SuperSport Challenge is still undecided, Mensah said.

"We are waiting for SA Rugby to get back to us about where they can accommodate us. We would prefer to be dealt in the northern group of the competition which will make more sense logistically and financially.

Africa Rugby recently confirmed that the Rugby Africa Cup will return this year, with a record 16 nations that will compete in four groups.

Namibia has been dealt in Group A, where they will pay against Zambia in Windhoek on 30 May and against Madagascar in Antananarivo on 28 June. The group winner will then qualify for the semifinals against the other three group winners.

Group B consists of Kenya, Morocco and the Ivory Coast; Group C consists of Uganda, Algeria and Senegal; and Group D consists of Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

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