Welwitschias out of Currie Cup 

PJ Walters in action for the Welwitschias against Boland. File photo

Namibian rugby has suffered a setback with the news that the Welwitschias will not be participating in the Currie Cup First Division this year.

The CEO of the Namibia Rugby Union, John Heynes, yesterday confirmed the news, saying that they were recently informed of the decision by the South African Rugby Union (Saru). 

“We were geared up and looking forward to participate in the Currie Cup First Division this year, but unfortunately the South African Rugby Union closed all borders for international participating teams which means that Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya will not be participating in the Currie Cup this year,” he said.

According to Heynes a protracted dispute between Saru and the SA players union, MyPlayers, contributed to the decision, which could even see the famed Currie Cup, one of the oldest rugby competitions in the world, being called off completely this year. 

According to South African media reports, Saru has insisted that players should be allowed to play for more than 12 months, and effectively for up to 20 months without rest, which MyPlayers is contesting.

“The dispute came after Saru decided to move the Currie Cup, which had overlapped with the United Rugby Championship for the last couple of years – to a new window between July and September,” the rugby website rugby365.com recently reported. 

“In the past, July and August were reserved as the annual rest period for all the provincial players. Playing the Currie Cup during the July to September period therefore creates player welfare challenges,” MyPlayers said in a letter to their members.

“The practise of playing players for longer than 12 months without rest is nowhere applied in world rugby, nor supported by conditioning experts we consulted with, or in line with the draft WorldRugby player load guidelines,” it added. 

The dispute has now gone to arbitration, and if MyPlayers win the case, the Currie Cup will be moved back to an earlier window and risk losing a major sponsor for the tournament, rugby365.com reported. 

Despite losing out on Currie Cup, which has provided the local-based Welwitchias with their strongest competition in Southern Africa in the past, Heynes said they are negotiating to host some international matches in July. 

“So for this year we’ve focussed on local content, while we also extended invitations to the Netherlands and Portugal to play international matches. Portugal have already confirmed that they will play Namibia on the 13th ofJuly, but weare still negotiating with The Netherlands, who will hopefully play Namibia on the 6th of July,” he said. 

“After the Portugal match our national team will be off to participate in the Africa Cup that will take place in Uganda from the 20th to the 24th of July, where we will face the likes of Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tunisia,” he added.

Heynes said that a Welwitschias squad has been assembled, as well as an u23 squad, and they are busy working out programmes for both squads during May. 

Besides that the national u20 squad has been hard at work preparing for the Africa u20 Barthes Cup, which takes place in Zimbabwe from 18 to 28 April. 

The squad, that leaves for Zimbabwe next week, is as follows:

Otja Auala, Gianluca Savoldelli, Joshua Bester, Ian Klitzke, Jayden van Zyl, Armand Combrick, Edward Drotsky, Ferion Beukes, William Lottering, Matthew Quinn, JP Campbell, Arenzo Isaacs, Kistings Minyoi, Mchenry Kambatuku, Walter Otto, Ben Burger, Denver Beukes, JD Rossouw, Michael Koopman, Van der Merwe Tromp, Xavier Mouton, JP van Wyk, SG Maritz, Jurgens Meyer and Liam Dick.

Pictured at the NRU and Pupkewitz Nissan’s vehicle partnership are from left: Nico Pieters (Pupkewitz Nissan), Charmaine Indongo (Pupkewitz Motors), Janse Janse van Rensburg (Pupkewitz Nissan), John Heynes (NRU) and Jasmin Eldin (Pupkewitz Nissan). Photo: Contributed 

The NRU and Pupkewitz Nissan yesterday also announced the renewal of their mobility partnership, with Pupkewitz Nissan supplying four vehicles to the NRU for another year. 

The vehicles will provide essential support to the NRU’s operations, enabling efficient transportation for players, staff and equipment, both on and off the field. 

“We are excited to renew our partnership with the Namibia Rugby Union. At Pupkewitz Nissan, we are passionate about supporting local sports and fostering a spirit of excellence. By providing reliable vehicles to the NRU, we aim to contribute to the continued success and growth of Namibian rugby,” Nico Pieters, the franchise director of Pupkewitz Nissan said. 

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