Namibia’s most capped rugby player, Eugene Jantjies, who will be going to his fourth straight Rugby World Cup next year, says he has no plans to retire even after next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Jantjies (32), who played at the Rugby World in 2007 in France, which he followed it up with two more appearances at the World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand and in 2015 in England, has played 66 times for Namibia making him the most capped player to date.
The scrum-half made his debut for the national team against Kenya in 2006 and his last match was also against the East African nation on 18 August this year in the final match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers match played in Windhoek.
Jantjies started his professional rugby career at Romanian side Farul Constanta where he played between 2008-2010 before he joined South African club Leopards in 2012 before he returned to Farul Constanta for the 2013-2014 season.
He also played for two other Romanian sides, Bucure?ti Wolves, for one season in 2014 and at Dinamo Bucure?ti before he returned home in 2016.
At the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he started against Ireland and France and came off the bench in the other matches against Georgia and Argentina, while at the 2011 showpiece he started all four group matches, against Fiji,Samoa,South Africa and Wales.
He featured in all games at the 2015 World Cup including the group match against New Zealand’s All Blacks.
“I started playing rugby since I was 7 years old. I came to Windhoek to attend my secondary education at Windhoek High School and from there I started playing for FNB Western Suburbs.
“I might try one more year after the world cup as I still have a dream to play in Europe again. I hope I get the chance to represent my country again,” Jantjies told the Windhoek Observer.
The Gobabis-born player said current national team coach Phil Davies is the reason why he continues to play at the highest level.
He regards the Welsh-born coach as the best coach he has ever worked with in his rugby career even though he only started working with Davies in 2015 when the coach was appointed as a national team consultant before he was appointed coach a few months before the world cup.
“There were a few coaches that played a role in my rugby career. All coaches have a different approach to coaching and the game. I can tell you that I have learned a lot from (Phil) Davies, the reason being that he is a player’s person, who always tries to get the best out of you, and gives everyone a fair chance to develop as a player.”
Jantjies currently lives in a rented house in Windhoek with some of his fellow teammates, while waiting for the right moment to marry his long-time girlfriend who lives in Norway.
Since rugby is only his livelihood, he trains every day at the High Performance Center at the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) in order to keep himself fit before the start of the European tour next month.
He is currently on the monthly payroll of the Namibia Rugby Limited as part of the contract given to local based players that are part of the national team set-up.
“I am not married at the moment, but I have been with my partner for nine years and she is from Norway. I was registered with Western Suburbs this year, but played only one game,” Jantjies said.
Namibia will go to Japan in search of its first win at the Rugby World Cup. Being the most capped player means that Jantjies and teammates need to up their game.
Their chances of winning a first-ever World Cup match are high even though they are paired with the All Blacks, Springboks, Italy and the winner of the Repechage tournament in Pool B.
The repechage tournament will take place in November 2018 in Marseille, France and will be contested by Kenya (Africa 2), Canada (Americas 3), Hong Kong (Winner of Cross-Regional Repechage play off) and Germany (Loser of Cross-Regional Play-off).
“I must say 2015 was our best World Cup by far since we almost got our first win. We played well in all the other matches.
“I was very fortunate not to suffer serious injuries throughout my rugby career and I never thought that I would make it this far. Our current national squad is probably the best we have had in years and our goal remains the same, we are going for that win or two at the World Cup,” Jantjies said.