THE two lowest-ranked teams in this year’s tournament the Welwitschias, ranked at 23rd and the Canucks, ranked at 22nd, will face each other in what is widely regarded as the alternative final match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The fervour of the match promises to make it one of the most memorable games played during this year’s tournament. Such is the excitement about the match between the two underdogs that all the seats in the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium has been sold out two days before the match. The game will kick off at 05:15 Namibian time.
“We have never won a match in the World Cup and we are desperate to put that right. We knew when we came here that it was going to come down to this as we were in a group that included three, and I don’t like the term, tier-one nations,” the Welwitschias’ head coach Phil Davies said.
“It has been tough but the players, 70% of whom are amateurs, can be proud because they have fought all the way every match. They deserve to finish with a victory,” Davies added.
“Namibia was always going to be our best chance of a victory. It will be a great occasion and it is what a World Cup is about every bit as much as the final. Players who are passionate about representing their country and will again give everything.” Canada’s Welsh coach Kingsley Jones said.
The advance of Super Typhoon Hagibis on Japan will not deter a very motivated Welwitschias Team to achieve their first ever victory at a Rugby World Cup Tournament.
Daniella Filipovic, the National team’s media manager, said training sessions at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium went on this past week as if the looming super typhoon Hagibis does not exist.
“At this stage World Rugby has only cancelled two matches on the central island where the impact of the typhoon would have been the most dangerous to players, spectators and officials. The impact of the storm where our final match of the tournament will take place will not be as severe as further south,” she said.
Filipovic said the Welwitschias are as motivated and eager as ever to get their first win.
“The team and management are on standby but the storm is definitely not interfering with the preparations for Sunday,” Filipovic said
Earlier this week the governing body of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, World Rugby cancelled the match between New Zealand and Italy and the match between England and France in Yokohama, because of the expected effects of typhoon Hagibis.
The winner of the match between England and France would have finished first in Pool C, but now England will finish first, by virtue of having more bonus points in their previous games.
The match between Australia and Georgia went ahead as scheduled on Friday but the entire match was played in pouring rain and very windy conditions.
After making landfall in Japan earlier today Typhoon Hagibis is predicted to start tracking east through Sunday. The landfall means wide areas across Japan will be affected by strong winds as well as torrential and sustained heavy rain that bring the risk of floods and even landslides. Storm surges are expected across the coast of eastern Japan today and tomorrow.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the super typhoon is anticipated to be the most powerful storm of the year.
“It’s not going to be a fancy game. It’s going to be very physical, very tough, but I believe this team has got the character for it. All I’m thinking about is getting the win. I don’t care how. If it’s the last kick, if it’s 50-odd points, I don’t care,” Darryl de la Harpe said.
“If it happens – or when it happens – it will be life-changing for a lot of people,” he said.