Local aspiring rugby players now have a trail blazing springboard to launch their careers following a decision to inaugurate the sport at the just ended Confederation of University and College Sports Association (CUCSA) games.
The sport made a maiden appearance at the recent CUCSA games marking a revolutionary leap in the development of the sport in the country.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) President Lesedi Keekae says the move is good for development of rugby in the country as it offers a growth pathway for the players before they join the national leagues.
Keekae added that BRU wants to focus on grassroots development in order to improve the quality of players at a young age. BRU has introduced the Re Ba Bona Ha programme on their calendar of events so that children can start playing at an early stage. This will help youngsters adapt to the techniques of rugby so that they grow and understand what is expected of them when they break into the senior national teams.
“We have to engage Rugby Africa so that we can compete in regional competitions and gain exposure of playing in top competitions. On the performance of Botswana Rugby team in CUCSA, Keekae observed that the team tried their best despite the position they finished on. “Some of the players who were selected for the CUCSA games did not pitch up because they were on camp for the senior national team. The potential is there and the team can do better with time,” says Keekae.
The BRU president said their ambition was to build capacity at the local clubs so that when they are selected at the national team they are in good shape.
Rugby was this year introduced in CUCSA games for the first time since the inception of the games 19 years ago. Only three countries participated in the debut rugby games, being the host Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The three nation’s rugby was only for men and no women’s teams participated.
Neighbouring Zimbabwe emerged winners of the 2018 Rugby CUCSA games, Zambia came second and Botswana last. The team’s coach Zibo Molefhe said their inaugural appearance was a learning curve and they will do more in the coming competitions to bring glory to the nation. Molefhe blamed insufficient training for the team’s poor performance. “We only trained for a week as a single unit before the games started. The boys were physically and psychologically prepared for the encounter,” says Molefhe.
He further highlighted that they had several challenges which included lack of training equipment and no training ground, but they had to improvise to go on with the program.
BRU will be sending a team to Swakopmund, Namibia to play in the 7s FISU tournament. The two day tournament is billed for 12th -14th July.