Uruguay, Namibia prepares for Rugby World Cup "final" match

Rugby World Cup minnows Uruguay and Namibia clash in Lyon on Wednesday 27 September 2023 in their own personal “final”, where the winner takes home the glory and the loser faces four years of frustration.

Plumped into a tough Pool A with three-time champions New Zealand, hosts France and Tier 1 Italy, this match always presented the most realistic hopes for both sides to win a game at the tournament.

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Namibia seeks first victory

And even more so for a Namibia side playing in its seventh World Cup that is still searching for a first victory after 25 defeats in as many matches.

Head coach Allister Coetzee has been forced into making eight changes from the team demolished 96-0 by France last time out, with regular captain Johan Deysel suspended after his red card for a headbutt that broke France captain Antoine Dupont’s cheekbone.

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But Coetzee also has a host of players missing through injury. “It’s tough to play four matches in 18 days for any Tier II country; we don’t have a lot of depth,” complained the South African.

“But I must say our players have really stepped up. I call them warriors because it’s really not easy; some teams get 12 days or 13 days off between games.”

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Rugby game was cancelled four years ago

There is an extra motivation to finally end their World Cup hoodoo after their best chance of winning a match four years ago in Japan was taken away when their game against Canada was cancelled due to a typhoon.

The importance of this match is not lost on either the coach or the players. “The players know that a game like this and what a win means for the country can change a lot,” said Coetzee.

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“So we’ll pitch up tomorrow (Wednesday). It’s important for us to get over that final hurdle; there’s a lot at stake for us.” Winning will not be straightforward against a Uruguay side that has impressed in France.

While Namibia shipped a total of 219 points in their first three matches, the South Americans were competitive in defeats to France (27-12) and Italy (38-17).

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How many games has Uruguay won?

“Uruguay has only won three games in all the history of the Rugby World Cup, and this adds perhaps some pressure on our side,” said captain Andres Vilaseca.

“We must accept this as there are a lot of people talking about the good performances we are having at this Rugby World Cup. “We’ve received very nice messages, too, but the truth is that if we do not win against Namibia, we won’t confirm this great progress.

“For us, it is a final, and for them, too, it is going to be a very interesting match.” The two sides have met five times before, with Uruguay winning four of those, including a World Cup warm-up in August.

© Agence France-Presse