Rugby – Namibia, Kenya in showdown for World Cup berth
18 August, 2018, 2:00 pm
WINDHOEK (Reuters) – Namibia assistant coach Jacques Burger is expecting a frenetic spectacle when his side host Kenya in a straight shootout for a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan in their final Rugby Africa Gold Cup clash in Windhoek on Saturday.
Namibia head the round-robin qualification table by three points from Kenya. Both sides have won all four of their matches but Namibia’s dominant performances so far have earned them four bonus points to Kenya’s one.
Namibia only need a draw to seal top spot and a sixth successive visit to the World Cup.
“I think Kenya without a doubt will be our strongest test,” former national team captain Burger told reporters. “There’s a lot to play for with World Cup qualification on the line, so they’ll come with everything they’ve got.”
The former Saracens loose-forward, who played at three World Cups, the last in 2015, says he has been impressed with the team’s performances throughout qualifying.
“They’ve worked extremely hard and the results have shown throughout the tournament. They’ve put up a lot of points and they’ve really put the sword to a couple of teams, but this weekend will be a tough one,” Burger said.
Namibia will be heavy favourites having scored 294 points in their four matches and conceded just 41, which included a 118-0 mauling of Tunisia in June.
Their 19 previous matches at the World Cup have all ended in defeat though with more than 1,000 points conceded.
Kenya have never qualified for the global finals before, but whoever finishes second in the pool will have another chance to seal their place in Japan through the Repechage competition that also includes Canada, Hong Kong and Germany.
Both the Africa qualifier and the Repechage winner will be in Pool B at the World Cup along with defending champions New Zealand, South Africa and Italy.