Botswana men’s rugby team, The Vultures, suffered morale sapping defeat at the just ended Rugby Africa Silver Cup in Africa, which has led to calls to arrest the slide.
The men’s national teams, both the Sevens and 15s, have become a laughing stock in the region. Their recent trip to Zambia ended in 32-13 defeat to the hosts and a 68-18 mauling at the hands of Madagascar.
In reaction, Canon Jaguars manager, Feddy Mutenheri said there are “structural imperatives” that needed to be addressed in order to make the rugby side competitive.
“Do we have a proper system that develops talent at grassroots and sees that talent to the national level? What are we doing to nurture that talent? These are some of the difficult questions that we need to ask ourselves for us to be able to start thinking of competing well at international level,” Mutenheri said.
He said once structural issues are attended to, one expects issues to do with preparation for big competitions, the financing and other attendant issues, to fall into place.
Reacting to the argument that majority of The Vultures players are old, Mutenheri said that is why he is calling for structural imperatives to be attended to, which would allow systematic injection of young blood into the game. This, he said, would ensure that youngsters gain the requisite skill and experience to take the country forward.
“Most successful countries have such models. South Africa, New Zealand and Australia have such,” he said.
Jwaneng Rugby Club coach, Keofe Phozokwa complained about poor planning and implementation. He said BRU is still using old players who have never brought results yet there are promising young players who could be groomed
“The technical team is always struggling to select good players who deserve to be in the team. They always go for the easy way out, hence they end up selecting the same players over and over again,” he said.
Also an obstacle is lack of sponsorship, argued Phozokwa. He said the absence of sponsorship for the local leagues is an obstacle that needs to be overcome quickly. Also, if there was prize money, the league would be more competitive, Phozokwa said, noting that clubs use large sums of money in league preparations but in the end they go home empty-handed.
BRU committee member, Thusego Segaise said the quality of the national team is determined by the quality of the administration, coaches and match officials. He said funds should also be made available.
Meanwhile, BRU president Lesedi Keekae acknowledged that there are old players in the team, like Eddie Ernest, but said they are handing the baton over to the youngsters.
Keekae said he has requested the coaching staff to call up to 25 new players, all under the age of 23, to join up with the team (15s) while others would be with the 7s.
“It is a first for that to happen. Normally players never had a continuity programme to keep them engaged,” Keekae said.
“You need more international matches for experience. We had 14 new caps this year. Indeed we need more time and that requires resources and most importantly planning,” he said.