WINDHOEK – All four major sponsors of Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty), a commercial and operational arm of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU), yesterday threatened to withdraw their sponsorship if infighting between the leadership of both entities continue as it could derail the smooth implementation of the High Performance Pathway Programme.
Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty) financial backers, namely Namibia Breweries Limited, Pupkewitz Toyota, First National Bank (FNB) and Air Namibia, said if the persisting infighting between the leadership of the NRU and its commercial entity continues to pose a threat to the full implementation of High Performance Pathway Programme, which is conducted under the auspices of World Rugby, they as sponsors will be forced to review their financial commitment to local rugby.
Just over the weekend, the squabbles between the two bodies led to Namibia’s embarrassing withdrawal from the renowned Currie Cup competition because of differences as to who should be head coach of the country’s Currie Cup side as well as the way the High Performance Pathway Programme is being implemented locally.
Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty) is said to have appointed JP Nel as head coach of the Currie Cup team through the blessings of World Rugby, following the departure of Welsh native Lyn Jones, while on the other hand, the NRU leadership appointed local mentor Johan Diergaardt as head coach.
As it stands, Nel appears the suitable candidate to head the Currie Cup team, as he has been part of the High Performance Pathway Programme.
But as per requirements and World Rugby criteria for the High Performance Pathway Programme, Diergaardt did not meet set requirements to spearhead the Currie Cup team under the set High Performance Pathway Programme rules and regulations, and that led to a deadlock between both entities and equally led to Namibia’s subsequent embarrassing withdrawal from the Currie Cup tournament.
It is also understood that the NRU leadership is not entirely happy with the implementation of the High Performance Pathway Programme and also allegedly feels that Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty), which is merely a business arm, operates in isolation and many a time take decisions over the head of the NRU leadership.
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, which Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty) only chose to communicate with their preferred media outlets as has become their tradition, Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty) chairman Bradley Basson said the coaching issue and High Performance Pathway Programme will sit with the NRU management to see how best to solve the issues and to work towards a common objective, which is to best prepare Namibia for the 2019 World Cup, according to NBC Sport.
In a telephonic conversation with New Era Sport late yesterday, FNB’s Gordon Pokolo confirmed the position of all sponsors, saying any other agreement outside the agreed High Performance Pathway Programme, which Namibia Rugby Ltd (Pty) presented to them, would constitute a breach of their sponsorship agreement and a review process would then have to take place.