Namibia pull out of Currie Cup first division
In a sign of the austere times that professional rugby in southern Africa is currently enduring the Welwitschias from Namibia have withdrawn from the Currie Cup first division competition.
Last week SA Rugby said that the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) would have to foot the bill for touring SA teams for matches‚ in line with common rugby practice.
South Africa’s small unions are feeling the financial pinch and couldn’t afford to play games in Windhoek at their own expense. The NRU claimed it had sourced funds and would meet an estimated R900‚000 budget for the three games.
NRU chief executive Mervyn Green said that global governing body World Rugby would assist financially‚ but that funding has clearly since fallen through.
On Friday the NRU did an about-turn and instructed SA Rugby they would pull out of the tournament.
“It’s unfortunate that the Namibian team had to withdraw from the Currie Cup First Division‚ but our decision was that they have to pay for teams to travel to Windhoek for their home games‚ which they agreed to do‚” SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said.
“We’ve since been informed that they can’t do that anymore and that the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will withdraw from the competition‚ which means that all remaining teams will now have a bye on the weekend where they were scheduled to play the Namibians.”
SA Rugby have declared two huge financial losses in their last two annual audits and cannot continue to play the role of benefactor to the entire region and continent when their own unions are all in varying degrees of financial strife.
For years SA Rugby have funded matches in Namibia‚ as well the Welwitschias’ trips to this country. It has also assisted the continental body‚ Rugby Africa.
But when SA was awarded preferred bidder status for Rugby World Cup 2023‚ Rugby Africa gave its vote to France‚ so there is understandable aggravation from cash-strapped SA Rugby to keep funding rugby in the region.