A farmer, a bicycle shop salesman and the Namibian amateurs to take on the All Blacks

8 members of the Welwitschias squad have taken time off work to play in the Rugby World Cup.

The Namibians line out against Wales in a Rugby World Cup pool game four years ago in New Zealand.
The Namibians line out against Wales in a Rugby World Cup pool game four years ago in New Zealand.
Image: Dave Lintott

WHEN THE NAMIBIAN players take to the Olympic Stadium pitch in London tonight in Pool C, they will do so without fear.

Granted, in New Zealand it is the world’s best they will be lining out against, but the reality is this nation from south-western Africa are dealing with absolutely no expectations and thus, no pressure.

Japan’s battling and out-of-the-blue victory over South Africa will have given hope to the so-called ‘lesser’ nations in the rugby world.

However, there is no doubting the result tonight — the All Blacks WILL win and they will win well. That’s not to say Namibia won’t do themselves proud, and a quick look at the make-up of their squad makes for fascinating viewing.

The starting line-up tonight for Namibia includes three amateurs: prop Jaco Engels is a coach and consultant at a Windhoek-based school, flanker Tinus du Plessis is a foreign exchange broker, and then there’s full-back Johan Tromp.

His occupation? He’s a salesman at an outdoor cycling shop, of course. Aside from those starters, Namibia’s other amateurs are:

Replacements for tonight v NZ:

  • Louis van der Westhuizen – student
  • Raoul Larson – student teacher
  • Janco Venter – engineering student
  • Rohan Kitshoff – mechanical engineer at a brewery
  • Eneill Buitendag – insurance broker

Other amateurs in the squad:

  • Johnny Redelinghuys – construction firm boss
  • Darryl de la Harpe – manager of his father’s cylinder company
  • AJ de Klerk – farmer
  • Danie Van Wyk – engineer at a diamond mining company


  • PJ van Lill – a dentist who is currently playing professional rugby at Bayonne, France

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

Prop Johnny Redelinghuys often drives up to 340km per day in order to make training in the capital Windhoek.

He is a construction firm manager and, although he is not in the match-day squad for tonight’s fixture, captain Jacques Burger is thoroughly impressed with the time and effort he and the team’s other amateurs have put into making this World Cup a memorable one.

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“For us as a nation, it’s definitely about these guys who work eight-to-five, they’ve offered up so much. They’re incredible. They wake up at four, five in the morning, start training at six, have to to go to work all day and come back in the evening, six to half-seven, which is so challenging.”

I’m massively impressed with what they put in and the level they perform at. They’re not just good rugby players but good human beings. What they do day-to-day has massively changed my take on sport.”

Ireland know all about the threat posed by Namibia’s XV on their day, and in 2007 the Africans scored two tries and ‘only’ lost 17-32 to Eddie O’Sullivan’s charges in their opening pool game of the 2007 World Cup tournament.

The odd decent performance aside though — it is hard to find many positives from the annals of Namibian rugby union. For example, they have conceded an average of 263 points in just four pool games at the previous three World Cups, and they haven’t exactly ever set the world alight at the other end either.

We can be negative all we want though. True, Namibia have not yet managed a win at any of the Rugby World Cups, and that elusive first win will certainly not come tonight.

One thing’s for sure though — you can’t knock this team’s commitment and desire.

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About the author:

Shane Hannon

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