No regrets as Namibia say sayonara to RWC 2019

The Welwitschias have been denied their curtain call, and that elusive win, but an ingrained no-excuses culture ensures they will not be feeling hard done by.

KAMAISHI, 14 Oct - It may not have been the way they wanted it, denied a final shot at ending their 22-match winless streak at a World Cup by the weather, but you will not hear the Welwitschias complain. Their chief medical officer would not abide it.

A veteran of three World Cups and three junior world trophies, Vernon Morkel has helped set a no-excuses tone in the Namibia team that means the second-best side in Africa will depart the tournament knowing they gave everything on the field.

"During my time, I've seen it when players fail, they blame other people, other things, except themselves. They always have excuses," he said. "So we take all the excuses away.

"We give them the best medical care, the best strength and conditioning coaching, the best recovery and nutrition, everything. So at the end of the day when they walk on to the field they have no excuse not to perform."

It is a theme head physiotherapist Innis Erasmus has also invested in. He led by example, relocating his family to Namibia from South Africa to prepare the players for the tournament.

"We want to provide the Tier 2 nations with a Tier 1 management set-up so at the end of the day we don't have an excuse not to win a game at the World Cup," he said.

While Sunday's intended opponents Canada are starting to reap the professional benefits of Major League Rugby, Namibia's squad is still rooted in the fundamental values of the amateur game.

"The players do the small stuff extremely well, in terms of recovery and nutrition," team physiotherapist Aneurin Robyn said. "Because they aren't professional they need to look after their bodies better because they work, they sleep less, all the stress." 

According to Morkel, it is this reality that has instilled a self-sufficiency within the group, which will serve them well as they move on from the tournament and set their sights on France in 2023. 

"There is one highlight we're all looking forward to: getting that one elusive win. It would be a reward for all our hard work. The nation deserves it. It would put us on the map for more sponsorship and more involvement of kids in the game.

"But representing my country at the World Cup is a great honour and privilege. It doesn't matter what you do in life, you want to reach the pinnacle.

"I've seen more than 20 countries just through rugby. I've met lots of people all over the world and nothing can take that away. Money can't buy these experiences."

RNS sr/ajr/co