Namibia: Strong Competition At National Trials

MORE than 70 players from all over Namibia attended national rugby trials at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday morning.

Three matches were played allowing interim national coach Robbie Dickson enough time to view the talent on display.

After the final match a squad was selected in preparation for next month's friendlies against Zimbabwe, as well as the Africa Cup matches against Madagascar and Ivory Coast in July, but the squad will only be announced once it has been approved by the selectors.

In the final trial match, a Blue team beat a Black team 25-10 after the teams were tied 5-all at half time.

The Blue Team took the lead when centre Ricardo Swartz broke through the defence to touch down after a 30 metre run, but the Black team soon drew level when wing Oderich Mouton finished off a counterattack by Denzo Bruwer.

Nazume Swartz restored the Blue Team's lead early in the second half but eighthman Pieter Kok powered his way over from a scrum to draw level at 10-all.

The Blue Team, however, gradually pulled away and further tries by flanker Vakomboka Kamboo, wing Jason Morkel and fly half Delron Brandt gave them a 25-10 victory.

Dickson said he was pleased with the talent on display.

"It went very well, and I'm also very happy with the players who came from outside Windhoek. Obviously we still need to work on the fitness levels and there's a lot of structuring that still needs to fall into place, but overall I'm very happy.

Dickson said he was confident that he would have a squad that can beat Zimbabwe.

"I think we can pick a squad from Windhoek alone that's good enough to beat Zimbabwe. There's so much talent in Namibian rugby right now, especially in our club rugby structures, while we have players coming from the north, from the coast and Windhoek itself, so I'm pretty sure we can get the job done," he said.

"Zimbabwe is always a difficult test, they are big physical guys, so it's going to be hard rugby, but our forwards are hard and tough so they are not scared of size, and I'm pretty sure we will be able to do the job with them," he added.

A number of players didn't attend the trials due to various reasons, but Dickson said they had drawn up a shortlist of unavailable players who will still be added to the final squad.

"A lot of players fell sick this week especially with the cold, while others had work obligations and some players are also injured, so we have drawn up a shortlist of about 10 or 11 players that will be added to the squad," he said.

Dickson, however, indicated that Namibia's professional players abroad will be considered for the Africa Cup, especially since those matches will also have world ranking points at stake.

The two tests against Zimbabwe will take place on 12 June in Harare and 19 June in Windhoek, while the Africa Cup will be hosted in Windhoek at the beginning of July.

Namibia play the Ivory Coast on 3 July, Madagascar play the Ivory Coast on 7 July, and Namibia play Madagascar on 10 July.

The top two teams will progress to the next round of the Africa Cup in 2022, along with the top two of four other regional tournaments, which will also serve as the final qualifying tournament for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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