Welwitschias centre Darryl de la Harpe reached a personal milestone when he captained his country for the first time in the Vodacom Cup against the Golden Lions last week.
It was not a very memorable debut as the Welwitschias lost the match 53-3, while Darryl had to leave the field with a groin injury in the second half, but despite being disappointed with the result, Darryl said it was an exciting experience.
“It was a bit difficult, seeing that the whole team was quite young and I didn’t have the experienced guys around me. But on the other hand it was exciting and a new chapter in my career so I took on the challenge. The result didn’t go our way, but looking at the positive side, I can build on the captaincy actually start a second phase in my career.”
Darryl’s captaincy is the latest in a long line of achievements on the rugby field at home and abroad.
He grew up in Khomasdal in a rugby-mad family, the second of three brothers, with Ryan being the oldest and Sergio the youngest. The three De La Harpe brothers went on to make history by becoming the first trio of brothers to represent Namibia, but Darryl made a lot of headlines of his own.
He represented Namibia at junior level and represented Windhoek High School’s first team when they won the Super League trophy for three years in a row.
After school he went to the Sharks Academy and played for the Sharks A side, while he also played for the Falcons in the South African Currie Cup.
He made his national debut against Russia in 2010 and later that year formed part of the Namibian team that won the IRB Nations Cup for the first time.
In 2011 Darryl made his debut at the World Cup in New Zealand where he played four matches and over the next two years he played abroad for the Romanian club side, Constanta.
In between he also played for Western Suburbs and helped them to win two Premier League titles in 2012 and 2013.
Darryl said he always wanted to make history on the rugby field.
“I’ve always wanted to make history and so far I have done OK in meeting my targets. At school I made history with WHS by winning the Super League three years in a row. I made the national team and we won the Nations Cup trophy for the first time in history; we beat Western Province last year for the first time in Windhoek; and we have qualified for our fifth successive World Cup,” he said.
Last year Darryl was part of the Namibian team that qualified for their fifth successive Rugby World Cup in Madagascar. That was an exceptional achievement, since Namibia had to beat Madagascar by at least 53 points in their final match but they did so in tremendous fashion, winning the match 89-10.
“The feeling afterwards was unexplainable. It’s difficult to tell someone about it or to try and explain how you feel about it. Everyone was just so happy and relieved,” Darryl said.
I think we were the most humble team there. When we sing our anthem, we don’t just sing it, we think of every word. We all think we have the most beautiful anthem in the world because our anthem explains everything. If you see a guy crying, it’s not because he’s putting up a show, it’s because of the culture in the team,” he added.
Namibia will now play at their fifth successive Rugby World Cup in England in September in England, where they will meet the New Zealand All Blacks, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia, and Darryl believes they will once again make history by winning their first match at the World Cup.
“We have beaten Georgia in the Nations Cup before and I believe we can beat Tonga. Then we play Argentina and the All Blacks. Playing against the All Blacks at the World Cup is going to be massive. It’s every rugby player’s dream and to face the Haka is going to be awesome,” he said.
Darryl de la Harpe
2 October 1986
Eros Primary School and Windhoek High School.
Making the World Cup team and playing for WHS’ first team when we won the Super League title for three years in a row.
Who inspired you as a rugby player?
The All Blacks centre Tana Umaga inspired me a lot and as a person I’d say my oldest brother Ryan. He achieved a lot and I just wanted to be like him and even better.
What teams do you support?
Western Province and the All Blacks.
What do you like to eat and drink?
Seafood and strong black coffee.
Music and favourite musician?
Soul music and R&B, and Michael Buble.
Favourite holiday destination?
Phuket island of Thailand and Borra Borra island in the south Pacific.
Your biggest ambition in rugby?
To win a match for Namibia at the World Cup.
What advice do you have for young players?
Never blame someone else for your mistakes. Just keep your head down, work hard and stay humble.
Courtesy of allAfricaTagged under Darryl De La Harpe