With the 2015 Rugby World Cup fast approaching, Last Word on Sports looks back at how the participating nations have fared in the previous seven tournaments from the inaugural in 1987 to the most recent in 2011. Today’s focus is Namibia, who have appeared at four of the seven previous Rugby World Cups.
Rugby World Cup History: Namibia
In 1987 Namibia was under South African rule and did not compete independently in international sporting competitions.
Although Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990, this came too late for the country to compete in the qualifying stages of the 1991 tournament.
Namibia competed in the Rugby World Cup qualifying for the first time in 1995. Drawn in Group A of the African qualifying tournament, Namibia faced off against Zimbabwe, Kenya and the Arabian Gulf. A 64-20 win over the Arabian Gulf set the tone for the group as Namibia went on to beat Kenya 60-9 and Zimbabwe 41-26 to top the group and advance to round two. Facing Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Morocco, in a final group with the winner advancing to the finals, Namibia started well against Zimbabwe and as in round one dispatched them, this time winning 25-20. Despite a 13-12 loss to Ivory Coast, when Namibia faced Morocco they knew a win would take them to the finals. Alas Namibia could only manage a draw and as such did not qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.
Namibia were seeded into round three of the African qualifying tournament for the 1999 World Cup facing Zimbabwe and Tunisia. With all three sides ending on one win and one loss, Namibia and Zimbabwe advanced on points difference to round four. As in 1995 a group of Namibia, Zimbabwe Morocco and Ivory Coast would compete to advance to the finals. On this occasion though Namibia were victorious, defeating all three opponents to advance to the finals. Drawn in Pool 3 with Canada, Fiji and France, Namibia got off to a bad start losing 67-18 to Fiji. Things didn’t get any better from there as France defeated Namibia 47-13, before Canada inflicted a crushing 72-11 defeat on Namibia in their final game, to leave Namibia bottom of the pool and eliminated.
After defeating Zimbabwe and Madagascar in the group stage of qualifying, Namibia then played Tunisia in a home and away tie. With both teams winning their home leg and the scores even on aggregate Namibia advanced on tries scored, having scored four to Tunisia’s three. Drawn in Pool A with Argentina, Australia, Ireland and Romania, Namibia lost their opening match to Argentina 67-14. The Namibians again shipped over 60 points in their second game against Ireland as the Irish prevailed 64-7. Namibia then made a bit of unwanted history as they were on the wrong end of the largest winning margin in Rugby World Cup history as they lost 142-0 to Australia. A 37-7 defeat to Romania completed a winless World Cup for Namibia.
Qualifying for the 2007 World Cup put Namibia in a qualifying group with Tunisia and Kenya. Winning both home ties but losing the away ones, Namibia progressed to the next round on points difference as all three teams finished with eight points. Namibia then defeated Morocco in a two legged tie, 52-15 on aggregate, to advance to the World Cup finals. Namibia would face hosts France, along with Argentina, Ireland and Georgia in Pool D, giving a good account of themselves in their first game eventually going down 32-17 to Ireland. Namibia did not fare so well in their second game as France thrashed them 87-10. A tough 63-3 defeat to Argentina was followed by a disappointing display in their final game, as they failed to score against European qualifier Georgia losing 30-0.
In the African qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup, Namibia defeated Senegal and Zimbabwe in Pool A to set up a semi final with Ivory Coast. Defeating the Ivory Coast 57-27 on aggregate, Namibia then went on to defeat Tunisia 40-23 on aggregate in the final to qualify for the World Cup. Drawn alongside South Africa, Fiji, Samoa and Wales in Pool D, Namibia scored their record number of points in a World Cup game in their 49-25 loss to Fiji. Namibia again conceded 49 points in their second game as Samoa defeated them 49-12. Namibia then were unable to get on the score sheet for the third time in a Rugby World Cup game, as South Africa defeated them 87-0, before Wales defeated them 81-7 in their final game to leave Namibia still looking for their first Rugby World Cup win.
Namibia are in a bit of a strange situation when it comes to the Rugby World Cup. They have established themselves as the number two side in Africa, winning the qualification tournament for the last five World Cups, however they have yet to be competitive at the finals. The 2015 World Cup will offer Namibia a chance to break their winless streak however it will not be an easy task and it could be a case of same old story for Namibia come September and October.
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