The Zimbabwe cricket team sent their African neighbours Namibia’s rugby team a message wishing them the best of luck for their pool A game against Ireland in Sydney on Sunday.
The Zimbabwe cricket team sent their African neighbours Namibia’s rugby team a message wishing them the best of luck for their pool A game against Ireland in Sydney on Sunday. It was the best thing to happen to Namibia all night.
Not only did it rain for the entire match but Namibia had a player given a yellow-card in the first half, lost the match by 57 points and conceded a bonus point to Ireland, for scoring four tries, before the break.
Ireland scored 10 tries – five in each half – and conceded one to secure their biggest win in a World Cup. Surprisingly, it was their first win in three career meetings against Namibia, ranked 25th in the world on the International Rugby Board list.
The African nation had beaten the Irish in their only two prior meetings, in Namibia, in July 1991. Those wins came just 12 months after the Namibian rugby association was formed.
Statistics say a significant proportion of the Australian population is descended from the Irish but about 90 per cent of the capacity crowd at Aussie Stadium were dressed in green last night. Many of those who weren’t were dressed as Catholic bishops or leprechauns.
In a carnival atmosphere that included beach balls as well as plenty of umbrellas, it was a match which came down to who could hold onto the ball the longest. It would be easy to imagine the Irish would be used to sodden conditions, with a base at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road, but they spilled the ball 20 times, making seven more handling errors than the Namibians.
Conditions meant running rugby was scarce but the Irish backs still managed to score five of the 10 tries. However, much like Wendell Sailor failing to score in Australia’s 13-try romp against Romania on Saturday, eyebrows were raised in surprise when star centre Brian O’Driscoll failed to cross in the try-feast, although he came close in the 64th minute over in the south-eastern corner of the field.
The Irish forwards had more success, with flanker Alan Quinlan and number eight Eric Miller scoring two each and prop Marcus Horan crossing for his maiden Test try.
It appeared he was the last to know he had done it as he tried to chase down a loose ball in the Namibian in-goal area. Horan was more intent on pushing Namibian inside centre Corne Powell off the ball and – as both bodies crashed to the turf – he found the ball under his chest.
Television replays showed his forearm was the first body part to put downward pressure on the ball and after eight replays the video referee, New Zealand’s Kelvin Deaker, awarded the try.
It was not all solemn news for the hard-working Powell. He scored Namibia’s only try three minutes later, in the 37th minute, so his side did not walk drenched to the dressingroom with a nought alongside their name on the scoreboard.
The wet conditions played havoc with the lineouts. Namibia struggled in this area, losing 12 of their own throws. Teams cannot win a rugby game without the ball, and Ireland enjoyed 69 per cent of possession compared with Namibia’s 31 per cent.
Ireland have now completed the easy part of their campaign in pool A, the “Pool of Death”. They must win at least one of their next two encounters, against Argentina and Australia, to qualify for the quarter-finals.
(Margie McDonald – The Australian newspaper)