Nam will haka if Italy falls

Namibia's defence coach Dale McIntosh has vowed to perform an All Black-style haka if his lowly team manages to upset Six Nations side Italy in their Pool B encounter on Sunday.

20 September 2019 | Sports

Rugby defence coach Dale McIntosh was asked how he would celebrate a win for his side, the lowest ranked at the Rugby World Cup, at 23.

“I'm Maori but I'm an adopted Welshman so I can give a waiata (Maori song) or I can give a hymn. And I'm not bad at them. If we beat Italy on Sunday you'll certainly see the haka later that night,” he joked.

Namibia is aiming for their first-ever World Cup win in this year's edition. Until now, their record stands at 19 matches played, with all being losses.

Along the way, there have been some drubbings, including a 142-0 defeat to the Australian Wallabies in 2003, the biggest margin of defeat at the Rugby World Cup and an 87-0 thrashing by the South African Springboks eight years later.

McIntosh said the team was “fed up” with being World Cup whipping boys but said the “process” was more important than the result. “If Italy beat us by 90 points I won't be disappointed as long as the boys give it their all,” said McIntosh.

“People can have their preconceptions of Namibia but we are a different animal to what we used to be. We are better and these boys are a passionate bunch of lads. We'll give it our best shot.” Namibia's tournament does not get any easier after playing Italy as they will face the Springboks on 28 September, the mighty All Blacks on 6 October and their last match will be against Canada on 13 October.

Head coach Phil Davies will be targeting a result against Canada which is only one place above them in the World Rugby pecking order.

Despite the tall order of winning a match against tough opponents in their pool, Namibia has the full support of former players and coaches.

Former player of the senior rugby side Mahepisa Tjeriko said Namibia should use their best 15 players for the first match against Italy if they want to put up an impressive showing at the Rugby World Cup.

Rehoboth Rugby Club coach David Philander said Namibia should try by all means to avoid a heavy defeat when they meet Springboks.

“We have shown what we have what it takes in the previous World Cup (in 2015). All we need to do is to stick to our structure and put everything on the line. “However, we should not underestimate the Springboks heading into the match as they are a powerhouse,” Philander said. Another former great, Jacques Burger has tasked the current crop to give 100%. He said they should do so without “hiding away” when they face the haka-inspired All Blacks.

“Making people proud doesn't always mean winning a match, but it's about the courage you show on the day. Play to your potential, work hard, be yourself and be disciplined at all times,” Burger said. If Namibia manages a Pool B win they will be rewarded said Namibia Rugby Union president Corrie Mensah.

“The government is keen on offering these rewards to the players, because not only do they want them to go and compete, but they want to make the nation proud,” Mensah added.

- Additional reporting NAMPA/AFP

LIMBA MUPETAMI

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