Botswana’s rugby national team, Vultures over the weekend failed to qualify for 1B of the Confederations of African Rugby (CAR) after coming second to Mauritius in the 1C Division. Vultures started the tournament on a high note last week Sunday, demolishing Swaziland 87-0. But they slumped in their game against South African professional league outfit Rustenburg Impala last week Wednesday as they were drubbed 54-9.
This gave Mauritius a chance to surpass Botswana through points difference after beating Zambia 54-17 and walloping Swaziland 134-0. The Vultures were left under pressure to redeem themselves against Zambia on Saturday. It was never going to be an easy one fight for the Zebras against Zambia, who also fancied their chances of qualifying after winning their first game against Nigeria. Ahead of the Saturday encounter, tension erupted between the two teams as Zambia accused Botswana of sabotage and mind games. The Zambian team was quoted vowing that no amount of sabotage and hostility will deter them from winning the tournament. On Saturday Vultures were hoping that Swaziland does not concede many points against Mauritius, who were fighting for a top spot finish together with Botswana and Zambia. To Botswana’s disappointment, Mauritius thumped Swaziland with a huge margin of 134-0, opening a huge gap between themselves and Botswana. In their last game, Vultures were faced with a mammoth task of overcoming an 85 points deficit. It was not going to be a walk in the park, especially against a strong side like Zambia.
When the day finally came, Vultures did put up a good fight, piling pressure on the Zambians from the first whistle. Their aggressive approach was a great improvement from their last game against Impala. Tackling was also much better while their handling and distribution was almost perfect. Vultures played good rugby with a more ruthless approach, not allowing the Zambians to keep possession. In most cases, they caught Zambia on the back-foot. Zambia scored only one try and the rest of their points came from penalties which resulted from Vultures’ aggressive game. In the end, Vultures won 67-14, garnering 52 points closer to Mauritius, but sadly running short of by 22 points to qualify for 1B. Vultures coach, Ivor Greaves was never going to have it easy because his team was dogged by injuries. He was left to choose from a pool of 18 players as the rest were injured.
In the tournament, Mauritius came first with 127 points followed by Botswana with 94 points. Zambia was in position three with -271points, Nigeria position four with -34 points while Swaziland was ranked last with -79 points. Impala’s ranking did not count as it was just a participatory team to fill in for Morocco which failed to pitch up for the tournament.
“We concentrated on improving our play after our loss against Impala. We tried our best to close down the gap created by Mauritius. I was impressed with our scrumming especially against Zambia,” said Greaves.