Botswana misses Maseru Rugby tour for safety reasons
By LEBOWA MOROEN
The Botswana Rugby 7’s Men’s National Team was the only one to miss an invitational tour of Maseru, Lesotho owing to concerns about the state of political instability in the country at the weekend. This follows a decision earlier this year by Botswana to pull two students out of a national Mathematics and Science Fair for the same reasons.
The Botswana Rugby Union made the decision to place the safety of the players before the desire to get a taste of international competition, hours before they were set to depart for the two day event. They would be facing 2 teams from Lesotho, Zambian 7’s team, a team from South-Africa, SA All-stars, Mauritius and Namibia in the competition which took place from 23 - 24 September.
Lesotho has been under tension following their 3rd election in five years in June 2017, where Thomas Thabane was elected Prime Minister. Since then they have been marred by violence. Shortly before he took office in June his estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane, was shot dead.
Two Batswana students set to compete at a regional Maths and Science Fair in Lesotho had their journey cancelled when Army Commander Khoantle Mots’omots’o was shot dead, on September 5.
However, the Rugby competition did take place without any reported incidents, and Botswana was the only country absent. In the end, Zimbabwe emerged victorious after they walloped Zambia, 40-7 in the final played on Sunday. In third position was Lesotho Invitation, a team coached by Hendrick Ras the academy coach for South African rugby franchise, the Cheetahs. They defeated Lesotho Stallions 17-5 in the bronze medal match.
The Vultures 7’s not only missed out on a chance to test themselves against teams from the region. They also lost an opportunity to be part of the first ever televised rugby tournament in Lesotho, as Kwese Sports was reported to have been covering the matches.
In an interview with Echo Sport, National Team coach, Seabe “Shine” Gabatladiwe, acknowledged the big loss.
“The team’s morale was affected badly. We are obviously not happy that we lost out on this opportunity. This was one tournament we could have used to measure our progress. Without competitions, we will never know where we are. It really hurt the boys. Competition means everything to them,” lamented Coach Shine.
Meanwhile the Botswana Rugby Union had a lot to celebrate this weekend as they launched their 3rd Re Ba Bona Ha training centre in Jwaneng. 74 players of both genders attended the first training session, as the BRU continues to take their sport to regions outside the capital city. They already have centres in Gaborone and Selibe-Phikwe.