Uruguay showcased their forward prowess, clinical finishing, and unwavering composure as they secured their inaugural victory at the Rugby World Cup 2023, but not before Namibia put up a formidable challenge.
In pursuit of their first-ever World Cup triumph, Namibia, known as the Welwitschias, burst onto the field with unwavering determination. Within the opening minute, Gerswin Mouton’s gifted try fueled their momentum, swiftly followed by JC Greyling’s second try, propelling Namibia to a commanding 14-0 lead. Uruguay, however, countered with tries from Baltazar Amaya and German Hessler. Fly-half Tiaan Swanepoel’s three penalties maintained Namibia’s edge at 23-12 early in the second half.
Buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd, Namibia appeared poised to break their unfortunate streak. Yet, everything changed dramatically in the 48th minute when Uruguay’s forward pack imposed their dominance, resulting in a series of scrum penalties deep within Namibia’s five-meter zone. A yellow card became inevitable, and during prop Johan Coetzee’s ten-minute absence, Los Teros capitalized, scoring 14 crucial points.
From that point onward, Namibia’s discipline unraveled. Captain Tjiuee Uanivi received a yellow card, which was soon escalated to red for replacement prop Desiderius Sethie. These setbacks paved the way for additional tries from Amaya, Santiago Arata, and Bautista Basso, ultimately sealing Uruguay’s hard-fought victory. Uruguay will now face New Zealand in their final pool match on October 5th, while Namibia prepares to return home.
Santiago Arata, honored as the Mastercard Player of the Match, expressed his gratitude, saying, “This victory (at Rugby World Cup 2023) is for us, and I want to extend my thanks to all the Uruguayans for their massive support.”
Uruguay’s captain, Andres Vilaseca, expressed immense pride in his team’s achievement, stating, “We had to secure this victory. The entire group deserves this win, and we have dedicated extensive effort towards it. Uruguay had only secured three Rugby World Cup wins in its history, and today we achieved the fourth.”
Esteban Meneses, the head coach of Uruguay, beamed with pride for his players and eagerly anticipated the upcoming clash with New Zealand, remarking, “Our players are truly remarkable, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Both players and staff are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to face New Zealand. It’s a tremendous chance for us.”
Namibia’s captain, Uanivi, admitted that a lack of discipline was their undoing, acknowledging, “Our indiscipline proved costly. Receiving two yellow cards and a red card made our task very difficult. At the end of the day, our lack of discipline was the deciding factor. Nonetheless, I’m immensely proud of the team. I know they gave their all out there. Besides the discipline issue, I’m exceptionally proud of them.”
Allister Coetzee, the head coach of Namibia, attributed the loss to the red and yellow cards, stating, “Uruguay gained control of the game, but in test-match rugby, conceding 12 penalties and three cards makes it exceedingly challenging. It all starts with the set-piece and scrum. These are aspects that can cost you dearly in test rugby. There’s no hiding from it when you’re not up to the mark. However, I must commend the team for their unwavering commitment until the end. Defensively, there were some technical errors, particularly in being too upright. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but ultimately, Uruguay deserved the win.”