Rugby World Cup 2003
Australia destroy no-hope Namibians
October 25, 2003
Chris Latham scores the second of his record haul of five tries
© PA Photos
The World Cup has produced its fair share of uneven matches as finely-honed professionals are pitted against keen amateurs. Few games have been as brutally one-sided as when Australia destroyed Namibia 142-0 on an October afternoon at Adelaide Oval in 2003. It was one of the fastest hundreds seen at the famous old cricket ground.
Australia's build up centred on media stories of disharmony in the camp, second-string players reportedly unhappy with not getting a chance. Their coach Eddie Jones responded by retaining only four of the side from the win over Romania. But by the end of the massacre all the press were worrying about was which of the many records set was the most important.
Put simply, the winning margin of 142 points was a record, 14 points clear of the previous high, New Zealand's 145-17 destruction of Japan in 1995. They ran in 22 tries - Chris Latham scoring five of them with Matt Giteau and Lote Tuqiri each managing three. Amid it all, Mat Rogers' 42 points (two tries and 16 conversions) beat Matt Burke's tally of 39 in a game.
Australia came into the Pool match on the back of a 90-8 demolition of Romania; Namibia had lost 67-14 to Argentina and 64-7 to Ireland. Namibia coach Dave Waterston took the decision to rest some of his first-choice players. "Hindsight may say I made the wrong decision, but I wanted the young guys to experience what it is like to play the best," he explained afterwards. "To get to heaven you have to go through hell first."
Namibia looked a beaten side as they took to the field, and although the result was never in doubt, their display was lamentable. "They showed not an ounce of effort," wrote Tom English in the Sunday Times, "falling off tackles as early as the third minute, when Latham went over for his first score".
It took the Namibians 24 minutes to work their way the Australian 22 for the first time. It was a brief foray and they did not return until nine minutes from the end. They never even suggested they would score despite the crowd's enthusiastic support.
Australia reached the break 69-0 ahead and as the Namibians tired, the slaughter grew. Some critics argued the Australians could have done even more but against such lamentable opponents it must have been hard to remain focussed. They did well to maintain the relentless onslaught and the tries kept flowing at the rate of one every four minutes.
Namibia's Jurgens van Lill lies flat out after Australia score yet another try © PA Photos
Waterston did not try to gloss over the outcome. "'They were too big, too quick, too fast - and it was a case of boys against men," he said. "It just shows really the gap between top sides and the sides of the lower echelon - but to be brutal the Australians approached it like a training run.
"A coach is normally an optimist. But at half-time I was going to go into Eddie Jones' office and ask him if he had any ideas on how to play the second half."
"It probably hasn't done the game any good in the short term," Jones told reporters. "But to get development of the game you have to expose teams."
Optimist of the day was Namibia prop Neil du Toit. "The experience we got there is irreplaceable,' he said. "Yes, it's true we got a big hiding. But you actually physically feel that you can measure yourself against these guys and know where you have to go." The more cynical observers noted du Toit was only on the field for 17 minutes.
"A nice afternoon's work for the Wallabies," concluded English. "A depressing experience for world rugby."