Kiwifruit capital cheers Namibia

By Ethan Donnell

Namibia is not a big kiwifruit importer but Te Puke will adopt the African nation's rugby team all the same.

Namibia are scheduled to play two games at Rotorua Stadium during the Rugby World Cup and the Western Bay town has decided to throw its support behind the team.

During the six-week World Cup, the Te Puke CBD will promote Namibia, dressing shop windows with bunting and decorations in a Namibian and kiwifruit theme, while World Cup and kiwifruit flags will be hoisted in the town centre.

The town will also celebrate the occasion with a special day, beginning with a mayoral welcome and a mass haka performed by local schoolchildren, followed by a combined blessing.

Focus Te Puke spokesman Mark Boyle said the town intended to buoy the rugby minnows to compete with other teams during pool play.

"We want to show the Te Puke spirit by getting behind Namibia, embracing them into our community.

"By doing so we hope to add that X-factor for the team when they face their foes on the World Cup paddock in Rotorua," he said.

Namibia's Rugby World Cup schedule means it's unlikely All Blacks fans will be forced to choose between the adopted side and our national team.

The earliest the two could meet would be the semifinal stage of the competition.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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