Namibia have qualified for Rugby World Cup 2015 after claiming the Confederation Africaine de Rugby Division 1A title in dramatic fashion in Antananarivo on Sunday.
Needing to win their final match against Madagascar by 53 points, the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 participants produced an inspired performance to run out 89-10 winners, claim the Africa Cup and a place alongside New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia in Pool C at England 2015.
At the beginning of a gripping day, the Namibians were outside hopefuls at best, but Zimbabwe’s 28-10 win against Kenya, denying the Kenyan’s a losing bonus point, while failing to secure a bonus point of their own, left the door ajar for the seasoned Rugby World Cup campaigners.
Zimbabwe and Kenya endured a torrid 80 minutes watching from the stands while the destiny of the Cup and the qualification place was played out in front of them as the Namibian’s put on the afterburners in an utterly thrilling match.
Leading 63-10 at the interval, the Namibians played with ambition, width and pace, and despite a late Madagascar fight-back, they secured an emphatic victory and qualification on a remarkable day.
Number 8 Renaldo Bothma was the main beneficiary of Namibia’s total domination with four of his side’s 13 tries – 12 of which were converted by fly half Theuns Kotze.
As the dust settled in Antananarivo, Zimbabwe emerged as the team who will progress to the Repechage where they will play Russia for a place in the Repechage Final.
The results also broke Kenyan hearts. Kenya looked certain to progress at least to the Repechage at the beginning of the day, having defeated Namibia earlier in the round-robin competition, but were left to rue what might have been.
At the end, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya all finished on 10 points, but Namibia claimed the title by virtue of having a superior points difference (+76 compared to Zimbabwe +49 and Kenya +23).
Namibia captain Rohan Kitshof said: “It has been a remarkable day and we are so pleased to have made it to England 2015. This is for the players and coaches who believed, the fans who have given us such support, and for the people of Namibia. We go to England 2015 full of expectation and are determined to do ourselves, our nation and African Rugby proud.”
CAR President Aziz Bougja pointed to the strides that African nations are making on the world stage. He said: “We have witnessed one of the most compelling, and certainly the most dramatic African Cups of recent times, which really does underscore the continued progress that our Unions are making. I would like to congratulate all the teams for their incredible performances and also congratulate Namibia, who have the honour of representing Africa at Rugby World Cup 2015.”