Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Anxiety over funding grips local rugby

Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) says it is yet to hear if it will receive some financial grant from Rugby Africa to kick-start the 2021 rugby season.

At the beginning of this month, a press release from Rugby Africa (RA) announced that the continental rugby mother body ‘will be giving out EUR 276, 490’ (P3 682 241) to continental unions.

According to a press release from the RA, the grants are to help unions make ‘successful and safe preparations’ to restart seasons ‘after a very challenging 2020.’

Botswana rugby however seems to have missed out as RA was not listed among the potential recipients.

Of the 39 unions in the continent, the RA announced that only 11 stood to benefit. The 11 are beneficiaries being Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Zambia, Madagascar, Côte D’ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.

“A very targeted approach has been taken to ensure funds are applied where they will have the greatest, immediate impact and highlights the attractiveness of Rugby Africa competitions,” the Africa Rugby release states.

For unions to be considered for funding, they had to have scored better in the criterion used by the Rugby Africa Executive Committee.

It is stated that 40% of the fund was scored on development, which was gauged through ‘the strength and development level of domestic competitions and the existing support workforce necessary to develop clubs and leagues in a country.’

For this criterion, different unions were allegedly sent Union Development Questionnaire which they had to answer.

The second criterion, which carried 60% is said to have been scored on performance. 

Under the criterion, unions were scored on their ‘participation and results of Rugby Africa Unions during the 2018 or 2019 season i.e. Rugby Cup (Men and Women), Sevens (Men and Women) and U20 Barthès Trophy.’

“Depending on their scores, Unions are eligible to receive between EUR 43,736 and EUR 5,027 as part of the Fund,” the press release states. 

It further went on to state that the grants may be used by recipient unions to address ‘their areas that need the most urgent development or improvement.’

“This could be for example the restart of the domestic leagues, training camps for the national teams to properly prepare ahead of the International/Rugby teams,” Rugby Africa states.

“Some of the unions may require to bolster the staffing of the national teams, and with the Olympic games in the near future, use the funding to pay for participation in the preparation tournaments.”

Speaking in an interview, BRU Secretary General Boitshoko Tsiane said the union is still waiting for the RA to inform them of any decision.

“Sometime back, the RA asked how they could help us and we told them what we needed. We are still waiting for them to get back to us,” he explained.

Asked on how they could have not been on the list of recipients, Tsiane said as unions, ‘they are in different categories.’ 

This however did not answer how countries ranked lower than Botswana, being Ghana and Algeria had managed to get grants ahead of BRU.

“We are optimistic that they will come to our aid. Sometimes it takes a little longer for countries to get aid,” he explained.

The BRU Secretary General said being considered a little late is not foreign to them, citing that the union received its COVID relief grant from the RA a little later as well.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper