Davies quits Welwitschias

By Michael Uugwanga

PHIL Davies, the head coach of the Welwitchias – the Namibian men’s senior rugby team – this week resigned from his position in order to spend more time with his family in his native country, Wales. In conversation with Confidente Sport this week, Davies spoke about his reasons for not staying, despite having said last year that he wanted to stay on with the Welwitschias beyond 2019.

Davies was appointed head coach in 2015 after succeeding Danie Vermeulen, who was unceremoniously sacked few months after guiding Namibia to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when allegations surfaced that he had racially abused some of his players during a tour in 2014.

As before, Namibia failed to win a match at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

The Welwitchias’ previous World Cup appearances were in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Davies was first appointed technical director of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU), where he was responsible for the recruitment, development and management of players and coaches at club level.

He guided Namibia to the ongoing 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan but the team was not able to secure its first World Cup match victory, with Namibia doing well against some of the world’s best, but losing three consecutive matches: 47-22 to Italy, 57-3 to South Africa, and 71-9 at the hands of New Zealand, while their fourth and final Pool B match against Canada was called off due to Typhoon Hagibis.

“In reflection on my time as head coach of Namibia, a few key thoughts come to mind. The privilege and honour I have felt as head coach of Namibia will stay with me for the rest of my life, [but] I will not be continuing as coach. It is time for someone to carry the honour. I had done five years since my first intervention and really enjoyed it. The World Cup was a good time to finish and spend more time with my family. However, my time as coach came to a natural end this world cup simply as that. My choice and I wish everyone continued success,” the stoic Welshman announced this week.

Davies also thanked the players and the NRU for their dedication, support and commitment during his stay and is still convinced that Namibia can become a force to be reckoned with in global rugby.

“My admiration for the players and what they achieved during the past four years is amazing: four years unbeaten as African champions, a consistent record at the Nations Cup along with becoming more and more competitive against professional South African teams. They have been the most inspirational group of players I have worked with during my 35 years in top level rugby union. What the players achieved, given the circumstances they have to deal with is incredible. They are continually asked to play against fully professional teams and they always give everything they have for their country, and for these reasons I sincerely hope the country is very proud of them. The future for Namibian rugby is very bright, we have a young group of players who are totally inspired in wanting to continually improve and get that elusive win at the Rugby World Cup. The challenge for the current NRU board is to build on and further develop the foundations set in place over these past four years.I wish [president of NRU] Corrie Mensah and his board all the very best in their endeavours in this quest of building and creating a sustainable future for rugby in Namibia,” said Davies.

With Davies no longer in the picture, the NRU will have to look elsewhere for a suitable candidate to help Namibia qualify for the next Rugby World Cup, which will be held in France in 2023.