Rugby World Cup: Italy sweeps Namibia

The Italian Ange Capuozzo dives to score his team's fourth try against Namibia, synonymous with an offensive bonus, Saturday September 9, 2023, in Saint-Etienne.

We will have to wait a little longer to see Namibia’s first victory in a Rugby World Cup. For his 23e match in a World Cup, Saturday September 9 in Saint-Etienne, the “Welwitschias” suffered a crushing 23e defeat in a row, this time against Italy (52 to 8).

The Namibians had, however, started their afternoon in Saint-Etienne well, scoring the first points of the game thanks to a penalty obtained after increasing their attacks in the transalpine camp.

But things quickly became complicated for the Namibians, whose hooker was penalized in the tenth minute with a yellow card for a foul on an Italian carried ball which was heading towards the goal. All in power, Lorenzo Cannone, supported by the entire Italian pack, immediately took advantage of the opportunity to score the first try of the game on a carried ball. A handful of minutes later, Paolo Garbisi, slipping through a gaping hole in the Namibian defense, scored the Azzurri’s second try under the poles, in the fifteenth minute.

The Namibians, however, did not come to watch their own match. After a very clic but very effective phase of percussion near the Italian goal line, the Namibian fly-half fired a long p towards his winger Gerswin Mouton, who flew to flatten. As soon as he got back on his feet, all his teammates rushed to congratulate him as if they had won the match.

In the process, the Namibians delivered a rather decent performance: at half-time, they had more of the ball than the Italians and spent more time in the opposing camp. The Italians, rather disappointing, failed to take advantage of their clear physical superiority and the brittleness of the Namibian defense (20% missed tackles), screwing up several attacking balls.

Namibia collapse in second half

Returning from the locker room, the Italians showed a little more power and determination than their opponents. After ailing the opposing line with their charges, the mive Italian second line Dino Lamb reached behind the line, for the first try of this newcomer to the Italian team, born in England and selected in the past with the young XV rose.

When the hour of play came, the difference in level between the Italian selection and their opponents came to light. Taking advantage of blunt Namibians, the Italians were able to accelerate. Following an offensive launched from their own camp, winger (then repositioned at the back) Ange Capuozzo strode towards the try. After a one-two with one of his partners, the Italian trained in Grenoble acrobatically dove into the goal and allowed his team to make a definitive difference and recover a precious offensive bonus point.

At the end of the match, the Namibians attempted a final rebuff, settling into the Italian camp for long minutes, notably carrying out a carried ball mobilizing almost all the players of the team. Without success for the Welwitschias, thwarted by the physical power of the Italians.

Then came the deluge in the Namibian camp. Visibly exhausted, the African players could do nothing to prevent Hame Faiva (74e), Manuel Zuliani (78e) and finally Paolo Odogwu (82e) to register their essay. The Italians, future opponents of the Blues, have successfully entered the competition, their main objective being to finish in third place in the group, synonymous with qualification for the next World Cup.


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Today’s rout is hardly surprising for Namibia, whose team is, with Chile, the lowest ranked of the nations involved in the World Cup in the World Rugby rankings. Some Namibians are amateur players. “Some had to change jobs because they couldn’t get a month’s leave from their employer” to participate in the World Cup in France, their coach, Alistair Coetzee, revealed during the week. Only three players play in major championships (compared to the entire Italian team). We even saw the entry onto the field of Casper Viviers, a pillar playing in Fédérale 3, the seventh French division.

The match, pleasant, in any case delighted the Saint-Etienne public. Even if Geoffroy-Guichard’s “cauldron” was not quite full, the more than 35,000 spectators multiplied the olas and songs, notably a Marseillaise. The home World Cup has well and truly started, and not just at the Stade de France.

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Martin Untersinger(Saint-Etienne, special correspondent)

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