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Being There: Rugby World Cup Day Seventeen

06th October 2019

For a sparsely populated country with deserts on both sides, Namibia's achievement in qualifying for six straight World Cups is admirable


New Zealand 71 – 9 Namibia

On paper this had the makings of the most one-sided match of the tournament. New Zealand, the three time champions on a sixteen match World Cup winning streak, against Namibia, who have never won a finals match in twenty one attempts.

Make that twenty two.

But if we’re looking for things to admire in this World Cup, let’s look at the defiance of a team of underdogs who put the first score on the board today and were holding the All Blacks to 10-9 with only five minutes left in the first half.

Namibia qualified for the tournament by winning the 2018 Africa Gold Cup. They won five matches out of five to seal their sixth successive appearance in rugby’s showpiece event. Players have done this while learning the game in tough, arid conditions, hemmed in by the Namib desert to their west and the Kalahari desert to their east. That’s a very fine accomplishment indeed. When Namibia finally do win a World Cup finals match plenty of us will stand up and cheer for them, but until that day it’s fair to say that just being there is something to be admired.


Half of Namibia’s population communicate in Oshiwambo, a language spoken exclusively in northern Namibia and southern Angola. If a Namibian offers you a koue enetjie, you can look forward to a cold beer. The phrase literally translates as “cold one”. If you have too many, you might wake up the next morning with babelas. That’s the head-banging feeling of a hangover.


New Zealand (24) 71

Tries: Reece (2), Lienert-Brown (2), Ta'avao, B Smith (2), Moody, Whitelock, J Barrett, Perenara

Cons: Barrett (8)

Namibia (9) 9

Pens: Stevens (3)


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