Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Vultures’ aim for World Cup debut continues

The Botswana rugby senior national team’s quest to qualify for the 2015 World Cup continues this coming winter when the team plays in the Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) Division 1B tournament.

The tournament will be held in Abidjan, Senegal, from the 9th to the 16th of June this year. The four nations’ tournament will pit the Botswana team, affectionately known as The Vultures against hosts Senegal as well as Namibia and Tunisia. The winner of the tournament will be promoted to the CAR Division 1A tournament and will fight it out with the other teams in that division to qualify for the Rugby World Cup. Speaking in an interview, Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) President Bob Lekan said preparations are underway to get the team ready for the tournament. He said so far, programmes for the team’s preparation have already been drawn by the Technical team and have been incorporated into the BRU annual calendar of events for this year. With the rugby season not expected to kick off at least not until or after March this year, the BRU President said the Vultures’ technical team, in conjunction with the BRU executive are busy planning the way forward for the team.

“Our intention is for the guys to get much needed training and match fitness. As such, the Technical team met with the players towards the end of last year and the players were given programmes to follow so that they can keep fit. Time and again during the course of the preparation stages, the boys will be called into training where the Technical team will assess their fitness and thus see who has been following the programmes given to them,” Lekan explained.

The BRU President further said they are also busy organising training camps for the team, though these will be limited as the BRU is hampered by financial problems. He, however, said the BRU will use any available opportunity to help the team prepare well for the tournament.

“Right now, we are organising a coaches’ seminar on the 9th of February and we have requested an expert coach from the Blue Bulls in South Africa to facilitate. We will take this opportunity to get the team together then so that they can be assessed and get help from the expert coach,” the BRU President explained. Apart from the training camps, Lekan said they are also busy organising friendly games for the team against the strongest available opposition.

“We are planning for the team to play Matabeleland rugby team, Zimbabwe A team as well as the Swaziland Rugby team. We are also looking for strong South African sides to play against the team to test its strength,” Lekan said.

He added that one of the teams they will be looking to play against will be the Blue Bulls Under 19 side which he described as a very strong opposition. Meanwhile, the BRU President said they turned down an invitation from the Namibian national team for a friendly game. He said the invitation was turned down as Namibia is one of the countries that Botswana will face at the CAR Division 1B tournament.
Going into the tournament itself, Lekan said the target will be to qualify into Africa’s elite Division.

“However, if we fail to reach that target, our intention will be to maintain our place in the current division. We don’t want to be there for one season then get relegated,” said the BRU President. Lekan said he is hopeful that the targets can be achieved, more so as the core of the team has been together since 2010. During that year, the newly assembled team, which was under the tutelage of a new coach, found the going tough during the CAR tournament in Cameroon and came out last. Ever since then, the team has grown in leaps and bounds and won promotion to CAR Division 1B last year.

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