Namibia make their final appearance of Rugby World Cup 2023 at the OL Stadium on Wednesday, still looking for the overdue win to end their tournament losing streak.
It has been a far-from easy tournament for the Welwitschias. They have scored just 11 points in their three matches to date – against Italy, New Zealand, and France – and conceded 219. But they will want to make a statement on their farewell to fans and rivals here in France.
For their last outing, head coach Allister Coetzee has made seven personnel changes to his starting XV from their last game against France, with four in the forward pack and three in the back-line. Johan Coetzee and Gerswin Mouton will be the only two players to have started all four matches, while Tjiuee Uanivi will captain the side for a fifth time.
In their way, Uruguay, who have caused problems for both France and Italy in their two matches to date, pushing the former all the way in Lille, and even leading 17-7 at half-time against the latter.
Coach Esteban Meneses has made four changes to his starting XV from that 38-17 loss against the Azzurri. Diego Arbelo replaces Ignacio Peculo in the front-row, Carlos Deus comes in for Manuel Diana in the back-row and Bautista Basso replaces Gaston Mieres on the right wing, while Felipe Arcos Perez will make his Rugby World Cup debut, replacing Tomas Inciarte in midfield.
FIXTURE: Uruguay v Namibia
GROUND: OL Stadium, Lyon (58,883)
KICK-OFF: 17:45 local time (GMT+2)
History is in Uruguay’s favour – they have won four of the five previous matches between the two sides, most recently in August this year, when they recorded a 26-18 Rugby World Cup warm-up match victory at Estadio Charrùa in Montevideo.
The one match against Namibia to date that Uruguay did not win came in June 2019, when Cliven Loubser – selected to start at 15 for the Welwitschias in Lyon – kicked 15 points in a 30-28 win.
Three months after that upset, Uruguay went on to shock Fiji, and the world, to record the biggest upset of RWC 2019 in Kamaishi.
KEY TALKING POINT
Can Namibia finally end their losing streak at Rugby World Cups? This is their 26th attempt to break their duck and, arguably, their best chance since 2015, when they lost 16-15 against Georgia at Exeter’s Sandy Park.
Coach Allister Coetzee rotated his squad for the 96-0 loss to France, in part to target this game. Will the gamble pay off in Lyon?
Felipe Arcos Perez v Alcino Izaacs. Two players making their first starts at Rugby World Cup 2023 go head to head in midfield. Uruguay’s Perez is making his debut in the tournament, while Namibia’s Izaacs already has some tournament gametime - he played 24 minutes off the bench against France last week.
Uruguay flanker Manuel Ardao won five turnovers against Italy, to add to the three he grabbed in Los Teros’ opening match against France. Keeping him away from the ball at the breakdown is going to be quite the challenge for Namibia here.
Mathieu Raynal (France). The two teams in Lyon should know they can’t afford to go off their feet when the French official is in charge. He has blown eight times for the offence in his two matches so far at Rugby World Cup 2023, more than any other referee here.
URUGUAY Baltazar Amaya; Bautista Basso, Felipe Arcos Perez, Andres Vilaseca (captain), Nicolas Freitas; Felipe Etcheverry, Santiago Arata; Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Diego Arbelo; Felipe Aliaga, Manuel Leindekar; Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Carlos Deus
Replacements: Guillermo Pujadas, Facundo Gattas, Reinaldo Piussi, Juan Manuel Rodríguez, Eric Dosantos, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Berchesi, Juan Manuel Alonso
NAMIBIA Cliven Loubser; Gerswin Mouton, Alcino Izaacs, Danco Burger, JC Greyling; Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens; Jason Benade, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Johan Coetzee; Adriaan Ludick, Tiaan De Klerk; Prince Gaoseb, Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), Richard Hardwick
Replacements: Louis van der Westhuizen, Desiderius Sethie, Haitembu Shifuka, PJ Van Lill, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Booysen, Jacques Theron, Andre van der Bergh