The year 2008 has been described as one of the most exciting and busy years for rugby in Botswana.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) High Performance Coach Gareth Gilbert told Sunday Standard that this is an interesting year for Rugby.
“It is going to be an exciting and busy year for rugby because of the important tournaments we will take part in,” he said.
First in their list of interesting events is the B division tournament, which is slated for March 15th in Ghanzi. Gilbert said the tournament was initially scheduled for March 1st.
“We had to postpone the tournament to March 15 because of logistical problems,” he said. He outlined a number of events that they will participate in this year.
“We will play for the World qualifiers in Uganda, Madagascar and Swaziland at the beginning of May. In the Sevens, the national team will go to Spain. Once they come back, they will play in another tournament in Zambia and then, again, in Kenya. And all these tournaments will be preparations for the World Cup qualifiers. We also have to qualify for the sevens in Dubai,” he said.
He revealed that for the first time the Botswana ladies team would be playing in Uganda in the World Cup qualifiers.
“The ladies rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in Botswana,” he said. He further revealed that the Under 18 will also take part in the development section in Africa and the Under 19 will be playing in the Provincial Tournament in South Africa in July.
Asked how Botswana team, a.k.a. the Vultures, fancy their chances in the World Cup qualifiers, Gilbert said Botswana has a very good team and hope to do well at the World Cup qualifying stages.
“The players are looking forward to the challenge. They are raring to go,” he said.
The coach said they have not received fixtures from the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR).
“But what I can assure you is that the A division and B division tournaments will run from March until the end of April,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gilbert said the B tournament to be held in Ghanzi is aimed at bridging the gap between schools and clubs.
“The youth have to develop physical fitness. It is also a chance to give them a chance to showcase their skills,” he said. He said the tournament would be played in two categories, one for the Botswana ladies and the B division side.
“The reason why we have decided to hold the two events at the same time is because of a number of reasons. He said it is also an opportunity for players to know each other, adding that clubs that host the tournament reap rewards because it is an opportunity to raise funds.
“In the past, a lot of clubs did not do this and they struggled financially because they had to dig deep into their coffers,” he said. He added that the tournament is also an opportunity to find new sponsors.
“Generally finding sponsors in the country is a big challenge. But we are currently discussing with a few of them. We would like to seal the deal with the ones we are in talks with at the moment and also retain the ones that supported us in the past,” he said.
Gilbert said the B division is an important tournament because they deal with the youth.
“The youth get assistance from the Union. It is a good way of developing our youth, officials and coaches. It is also another way of bringing rugby to the people,” he said, adding that it is an annual league that is held in different parts of the country.
Gilbert said facilities and resources are some of the major challenges that are facing the BRU.