WINDHOEK – With domestic rugby still reeling in shock trying to recover from the sad news of the national senior team, the Welwitschias’ last-minute withdrawal from the South African Provincial Currie Cup second tier competition, the oval ball game has been thrown into further turmoil.
New Era Sport has established that Namibian players were secretly shipped out of the country to participate in an unsanctioned hastily organized sevens rugby tournament hosted by Zambia in Lusaka, last weekend. Insiders revealed to our news crew that a combined team comprising of players from both Griquas and Namibia took part in the one-day tourney. Ironically, the Griquas rugby team is sponsored by Namibia Breweries, a fully owned Namibian company that has recently severed ties with the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU)
Sources with intimate knowledge of the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the corridors of Lichtenstein-Strasse say the frosty relationship between the sponsors and rugby authorities has been triggered by the union’s decision to appoint former national team mentor Johan Diergaardt as head coach of the Currie Cup team.
It’s believed Diergaardt drew the fury of the sponsors after he selected five players who fall outside the permitted requirement
of the High Performance Pathway. However, his sympathisers say the decision is justified as it was necessitated by circumstances way beyond his control.
“There are only 25 players within that scope and only 17 were available for selection, so this scenario left the coach in a catch-22 situation. After all, this was not only his sole decision, the squad was selected in unison with JP Nel,” claims our mole who asked for his identity to be withheld for fear of reprisal.
The dominant view is that it appears that sponsors have made it their sole beat to dictate to rugby bosses as to whom they should appoint in strategic positions – a situation that is interpreted as blatant interference in the internal affairs of domestic rugby.
To add salt to the wound, the players left the country without obtaining permission from the country’s presiding sports body, the National Sports Commission (NSC) as required by the statutes, and neither were their respective clubs, let alone the union, informed about their selection in the combined sevens team.