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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Namibia's renaissance man
By Mike Burnett

Rudi van Vuuren
Playing in a World Cup is every sportsman's dream, but few could imagine making two in the same year.

However, Rudi van Vuuren is preparing to do just that.

Less than seven months after representing Namibia at the Cricket World Cup, Van Vuuren is jetting off to Australia for rugby's premier event.

Despite this impressive achievement, the 31-year-old refuses to put himself up with the likes of 200m track star Frankie Fredericks, who is a national hero in the small African country.

"It's nice to go to two World Cups," he told this website. "Some people recognise me, but it's not like Frankie Fredericks.

"I don't get much attention here which suits me."

Van Vuuren, who underwent a knee operation after the Cricket World Cup in South Africa, has enough things on his plate without being recognised.

He is one of five doctors at a big practice in the nation's capital Windhoek, treating AIDS patients, and is passionately involved in wildlife conservation of animals such as lions and cheetahs.

The 6ft 1in fly-half spends half the year playing ruby and then sheds some of his 14-stone frame in time for the cricket season.

Beating Romania was our original target, but that may be too difficult now
Rudi van Vuuren
Namibia failed to win any matches on their Cricket World Cup debut earlier this year, but Van Vuuren still described the experience as the highlight of his career.

The bowling all-rounder became the first Namibian to take five wickets in a one-day international during the 55-run defeat to England and had the opportunity to bat against Pakistan's legendary paceman Wasim Akram.

"It's an honour to play in both the World Cups, but hitting a boundary off one of my idols is a moment I will always cherish," he said.

The cricket side returned home as national heroes, but Van Vuuren knows there will be more pressure on the rugby team to perform.

"When I came back we got a lot of attention, especially at the airport," he added.

"People will expect more from the rugby side though. Hopefully we can live up to people's expectations."

Namibia had a dismal time on their Rugby World Cup debut in 1999, losing all the three of their group matches, with Van Vuuren a regular on the replacements' bench.

Grouped with Australia, Argentina, Ireland and Romania in Pool A this year, they were hoping to improve on their record with at least one scalp.

But setbacks in their preparations for the tournament, which has seen four players and the coach absent from training, has drastically checked their ambitions.

"Beating Romania was our original target, but after all the things that've been going on, that may be too difficult now," Van Vuuren admitted.

"We have a good front row, good loose forwards, but we lack match practice and lack depth enormously. If one gets hurt, we're in trouble."

One thing is for certain, this will be Van Vuuren's last Rugby World Cup as he plans to retire from international rugby after the tournament in order to concentrate on his cricket.





Links to more Namibia stories


 

SEE ALSO
Van Vuuren revels in career high
17 Feb 03  |  Namibia


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