The Vultures have not had a sparkling international career, but as they fly out to Lusaka, Zambia to make their debut in the Rugby Africa Silver Cup, the Botswana national side will be looking beyond the regular dark cloud. CALISTUS KOLANTSHO takes a closer look at the team chosen to fly the country’s blue, black and white flag
The Vultures fly out to Zambia today, with their first assignment in the Silver Cup against the host nation on Sunday.
The men’s XV team held its final training camp in Jwaneng last weekend, as Botswana look to make a lasting impact on the first time out. The Vultures go into the tournament ranked 67th in the world and a good showing will see them move several notches up.
The Vultures technical team comprises virtually new comers in Seabe Gabatladiwe (head coach) and Munyaradzi Mhonda as his assistant. Both coaches have never coached 15s at this level. While experience does not equate to results, the Vultures have always delivered under coaches with plenty of experience under their belt.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) president, Lesedi Keekae travels to Zambia as the team manager. That would be added pressure for the new coaches, with the president close to the action. However, the role of the president, as team manager has been questioned.
The squad that has been chosen consists mostly of players who have been active for their clubs in the league campaign.
Curiously, league champions, Gaborone Hogs have one player in the team, while the second best team, BDF Cheetahs, provided the bulk of players. The majority of the squad is over 30 and are perennial travellers. It is a case of old wine in a new bottle. The forwards look quite solid, which is a positive thing for The Vultures. They however, need to master modern techniques at scrums. Oarabile Chiche is a seasoned campaigner but can he maintain the intensity at international level? May be it is about time to throw in mobile youngsters like Kabo Stoan Morobane, who has good ball carrying capabilities.
Mobility is what is needed against a team like Madagascar, which is known for their quick game. Most of the tight three struggled at various points during the league.
An obvious reflection of coaching at club level. The other options could be Thato Maifala and Katlego Mohutsiwa who are seasoned forwards with good techniques. The challenge is their fitness level and they hardly played the entire season. How they would fare against more solid and fitter teams like Zambia would be seen. There is hope in the loose forwards with Dent Patrick, Tafadzwa Ncube, Rambo Masalila and Ketshidile Matenanga having had a good run during the season. It would depend on how the coaches use them.
The lineouts would have been The Vultures strongest department. The team boasts of good jumpers in Eddie Ernest and Ncube. Whether the throwers would find the targets is a different question.
Coaches seem oblivious to the fact that one important skill of a hooker is to throw and the hookers that have been selected do not have that skill. The backs seem like a cut and paste job. There is no established scrum half who can handle the pressure at that level. All the 9s included in the squad have poor defensive capabilities.
Modern scrum halves are the first line of defence from a scrum when an opposition number eight picks up the ball. The number 10s also have not shown capabilities to take the ball up. Most are ready to get rid of the ball. Kagiso Molefhi would have fitted the bill. However, he has not been played in the position regularly.
Kaelo Serojane has a good rugby brain and a solid boot, but his small body structure is his biggest letdown. Opponents would have a field day running at him. On the upside, a midfield combination of Kaelo Mogotsi and Thabang Moepi would give any opposition a headache. Moepi has shown that he is not afraid of any player.