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Namibia boss Coetzee hails his warriors before Uruguay clash at World Cup

By Paul Myers - RFI
Europe AP - Daniel Cole
SEP 27, 2023 LISTEN
AP - Daniel Cole

Namibia head coach Allister Coetzee paid tribute to the mentality and fighting spirit of his bruised and try-battered squad ahead of their final game on Wednesday night at the rugby union World Cup against Uruguay.

"I must say our players have really stepped up," said Coetzee whose side have conceded 32 tries and 219 points while losing all three of their matches in Group A.

"I'll call them warriors because it's really not easy. Some teams have been getting 12, 13 or even 14 days off between the next game.

"But this is our fourth and final game in 18 days and we'll be playing a quality Uruguay side who will be playing only their third game.

"But but we've prepared well."
Italy scored seven tries in the 52-8 success in their opening game against the Africans in Saint-Etienne on 9 September.

On 15 September in Toulouse, New Zealand notched up 11 tries in a 71-3 thrashing and on 21 September in Marseille, 14 more tries were shipped when France pulverized the team 96-0. 

On Monday, Coetzee announced seven changes to the line-up that started the mauling at the Vélodrome.

Tjiuee Uanivi will skipper the side at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon in the absence of Johan Deysel who was sent off for the tackle that sidelined the France skipper Antoine Dupont early in the second-half.

Loss

"Johan would have loved to be captaining the last game," added Coetzee.

"But I've got no doubt in my mind that Tijuee will do a great job. He's skippered the side four times before. He's part of the leadership group and an experienced player.

"I'd like to think that with the support of the other leaders, he will do an outstanding job for us too."

A Namibian side first featured at the 1999 World Cup where they lost their three matches. In successive tournaments since then they have failed to win a tie.

In 2003, Australia registered a record World Cup victory against Namibia of 142-0 in the Pool A match in Adelaide.

Change

Twenty years and myriad pummellings on, the focus of attention has become how the game's governing body has allowed such disparity to persist with a number of the head coaches from the  so-called tier two countries such as Namibia, Fiji, Romania and Georgia clamouring for more Test matches against the traditional tier one powerhouses of Wales, France, England, Australia and New Zealand.

Uruguay also made their debut World Cup appearance in 1999 where they won their pool game against Spain and finished third.

In 2003, there was a 24-12 win over Georgia and in 2019, fly-half Felipe Berchesi kicked a 76th minute penalty to give them a 30-27 victory over Fiji.

At the 2023 tournament, Uruguay momentarily gave France a scare when they came back to 13-12 in the match in Lille but the hosts pulled away for a 27-12 victory.

On the back of that performance, the Uruguayans believed a win over Italy was possible but the Europeans were ultimately too savvy and scored 31 unanswered second-half points to win 38-17. 

Progress

“The defeat hurt a lot," admitted Uruguay skipper Andrés Vilesca. "It was really hard to digest. We knew that it was a very difficult and ambitious goal.

“Beating Namibia is still 50 percent of our objective here," Vilesca added.

"It's going to be very hard too as they are going to be coming with everything since it is their last game.

"A lot of people have been talking about our good performances at this World Cup but the truth is that if we do not win against Namibia we won't confirm this great progress.”

Uruguay head coach Esteban Meneses made four changes to team that ran out at the start of the match against Italy last Wednesday in Nice.

“For us it is a final and for the Namibians too. It is going to be a very interesting match,” Vilesca added.

Coetzee concurred. "The big thing about this is that it's anyone's game. If we pitch up and reply to the best of our ability, we could put them under pressure."

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