Former All Black Jefferd welcomes Namibia

(Rugby News Service) Saturday 3 September 2011
Former All Black Jefferd welcomes Namibia
Piet Van Zyl scored a try for Namibia against Ireland in 2007

GISBORNE, 3 Sept. - Former New Zealand centre Andy Jefferd has seen some significant changes in rugby since he last donned the All Blacks strip in 1981.

And he thinks the Rugby World Cup has played a big role in bringing these developments about.

"It's not just about the All Blacks and South Africa and Australia," he said. "It's about all the minor unions, too.

"I'm probably a bit biased, but rugby is an outstanding game. We want to expand it around the world."

Jefferd, 58, was on hand to see Namibia officially welcomed to New Zealand in his hometown of Gisborne on Saturday.

"It's wonderful hosting a team like Namibia here in Gisborne," he said. "You need (smaller) sides to promote the game around the world.

"There's a lot of rugby played in countries like Portugal and Holland, places like that."

Changing styles

Jefferd said the playing style of the game has changed as well, particularly up front.

"What saddens me a wee bit is there's a bit too much crash and bash going on.

"When I was playing, some years ago, there was a place for big guys, small guys, skinny guys, big solid guys.

"Now I feel like the forwards linger out in the back a bit too much. In my mind they should be in there doing the work. The tight five belong in the forwards."

One thing that has not changed is Jefferd's loyalty to his homeland.

"I have to back the All Blacks to win," he said. "But at the end of the day, in the final, 15 guys on either side are going to run out and anything can happen."

Namibia, who play Fiji in Rotorua on 10 September in the opening match of Pool D, will be hoping for a productive performance from their senior players, among them centre Piet Van Zyl, who scored a try against the powerful Ireland side in 2007.

RNS am/gs/sg