THE Namibia Rugby Union remains hopeful of a full and active programme for its national teams next year, after the South African Rugby Union’s decision to omit Namibia from its competitions next year.
Namibia’s Welwitschias have been competing in the SuperSport and Currie Cup competitions for a number of years now, but Saru recently announced that Namibia would not be invited to compete in next year’s tournaments.
“The general council of South African Rugby made a decision at its last general council meeting that it will have an internal focus and that Covid 19 has restructured its planning and competitions, and hence they will not be able to accommodate the NRU during the 2021 season,” the NRU announced in a recent press release.
NRU CEO Theo Grünewald on Thursday said the decision was regrettable, but understandable.
“We are disappointed about it but it”s understandable if you look at Saru’s financial situation with some of their unions like EP going bankrupt, while Covid-19 has had a severe impact,” he said.
“However, tomorrow evening we will have a zoom meeting with the Confederation of African Rugby where we will discuss the 2021 season and what competitions or tournaments will take place. We also asked Saru to assist us with friendlies and the response so far has been good and it seems that we will have some friendlies against some of the unions,” he said.
“We are also negotiating with some other countries for additional matches, but we will announce that together when the time comes,” he added.
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CAR, meanwhile, announced that it will support 11 African rugby unions, including Namibia, with a grant of more than N$5 million to help prepare for the 2021 season.
“This is an exciting day for rugby on the continent and it clearly illustrates Rugby Africa’s support for its unions. We have been through extraordinary challenges this year and it is essential that we do everything possible to keep this much-loved sport alive and striving in Africa,” the president of Rugby Africa, Khaled Babbou said.
The exact amount that each union will receive must still be determined, after consultations between CAR and the African unions, but 40 percent of the fund will depend on a development score and 60 percent on a performance score.
“Depending on their scores, unions are eligible to receive between 43 736 Euro (close to N$800 000) and 5 027 Euro (about N$91 000) as part of the fund. Rugby Africa staff will work closely with the unions to draft a program to be presented to senior management and Exco for approval before release of the funds which is expected early in 2021,” CAR added in a press release.
The funds will be used to restart local leagues and to help prepare national teams for international competitions next year.
Grünewald, meanwhile, said that the national high performance squad was hard at work preparing for the new season.
“They have been training since the beginning of October in the gym as well as with field sessions in the afternoons. The players are very committed and they are in great condition,” he said.