RWC 2019 - August Update

August 10 2019

RWC 2019 Japan

We Can Beat Namibia Right? A Look at Canada's RWC Opponent in Pool B

[ed. comments below]

At the beginning of the RWC buildup there was chatter of maybe winning two matches, Italy and Namibia. After watching Canada at the PNC many are scaling that back a bit, Namibia eh, they haven't won a game yet at the World Cup, 0-19 record.

While Canada have had a decent buildup schedule, the Pacific Nations Cup, Leinster coming over and another match versus USA, Namibia have had to scale it back a bit with monetary concerns. Last summer the Welwitschias, the Namibian domestic team, were going to participate in the Currie Cup First Division, which is the second tier of the Currie Cup, but pulled out for financial reasons. This year they participated in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge which is a secondary competition in South Africa and they went 0-7 in their division, giving up a -353 point differential. The full Namibian team has only had two tests this year, losing to Russia 20-0 but beating Uruguay 30-28, both matches in June. That win over Uruguay may concern a few Canadian rugby fans, considering Uruguay have beaten Canada the last four times they've met. We took a look at the Namibian starting roster that defeated Uruguay in June (listed below). Seven of the players have the Welwitschias as their highest level, there's a university player, a couple of second tier UK Rugby Championship players, a player from PRO D2 in France, a couple from second tier South African teams, one from the Sharks U21 team, and one player from the Free State Cheetahs PRO 14 team. So in terms of professional pedigree, as some people like to use that as a measuring stick, they are similar to Canada, a mix of amateur, semi-professional and professional players of various levels but only one or two playing at the highest level. What's interesting is the number of young players they fielded in that win against Uruguay, nine of the fifteen are 24 years or younger and three of the 24 year olds have caps from the 2015 World Cup.

21 year old loosehead
3 caps

22 year old hooker
15 caps

31 year old tighthead
21 caps (4 2015 RWC)
Free State Cheetahs - PRO 14

23 year old second row
7 caps
Leopards - SA Tier 2

28 year old second row
30 caps (4 2015 RWC)
London Scottish RFU Championship

24 year old flanker
17 caps (2 2015 RWC)
University of Johannesburg

24 year old flanker/second row
13 caps

24 year old flanker/#8
25 caps (3 2015 RWC)
Jersey Reds RFU Championship

24 year old scrum half
25 caps (3 2015 RWC)
Sharks XV - SA Tier 2

22 year old flyhalf
15 caps
Sharks U21

21 year old wing
1 cap

32 year old centre
49 caps (6 2011/2015 RWC)

26 year old centre
24 caps (3 2015 RWC)
Colomiers PRO D2

28 year old centre/wing
32 caps (2 2015 RWC)

25 year old utility back (wing/centre/fullback)
8 caps

What's on the horizon for the Namibian team as they prepare for the World Cup, they haven't played a match since June. They have two matches lined up against the Southern Kings, one on August 31st and the next September 7th. The Southern Kings used to play in the southern hemisphere Super Rugby but were cut in 2017 and joined the northern hemisphere PRO 14 league. The Southern Kings came last in their division in the 2018-19 PRO 14 season, with only 2 wins and a draw in 21 matches.

So the Canada v Namibia match is one that both teams will target for a win, Namibia looking to break its 0-19 record and Canada looking to come away with a win at the World Cup. Both teams looking to remain respectable against New Zealand and South Africa. Both teams looking for a long shot upset win over Italy.

RugbyPass which bills itself as "the largest independent English-language rugby audience network in the world" had this to say when listing the best bets for an upset at the 2019 RWC:
Despite not having played a nation of greater stature than that of Spain, Russia and Uruguay since the last World Cup, Phil Davies’ side have been drawn in Pool B alongside the bumbling Canadians. Traditionally a powerhouse of Americas rugby, the Canucks have struggled in recent times, winning just 12 of their 35 tests since the 2015 World Cup. A quarter of those victories came against minnows in the repechage round of World Cup qualifying last year.

As a matter of interest other games they've targeted for a possible upset, Pool A Scotland v Japan, Pool B Canada v Namibia, Pool C France v USA, Pool D Australia v Fiji. After watching recent matches (Australia crush NZ, Japan win PNC, Canada winless at PNC) our thoughts are the Pool A and B upsets are the most possible, the Pool C and D upsets are a long shot.

Pemberton Holmes
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