The Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) has been blamed for failing to offer adequate support to the women's 7s team, following a dismal performance at the Olympic Games qualifiers held in Tunisia.
The side had shown signs of progress when the country hosted the 2018 Africa Women’s 7s earlier this year. But they never participated in any other tournament since May, and travelled to Tunisia without playing friendly matches.
The results were telling as Botswana finished 11th out of 12 countries, winning only once against Mauritius.
Botswana went 19-10 to Senegal and were on the receiving end of a 51-0 drubbing at the hands of Kenya. They narrowly lost 12-10 to Ghana and 24-5 to Zambia while a 22-17 victory to Mauritius proved just a consolation.
Coach, Condrad Ntsebe said his players were better than most teams, but were let down by poor preparations.
“They were better than most of those teams but just do not have the big match temperament because they do not play enough matches in a year. The BRU has turned a blind eye towards them,” he said.
“Look at our scores against Zambia, we beat them 17-5 last year, look now at the difference, 24-5 down.
It shows that they went back and did their homework, while we did nothing.”
Ntsebe said despite the challenges they encountered, it was good exposure for the players based on what they had and how they tried to prepare to make a decent team.
“It is not the results that we wanted but some great lessons for the 60% of new players in the team, they did themselves proud,” he said. Ntsebe said the players are good enough and could have finished between positions four and seven, but they were not given support at all.
But BRU president, Sean Irish holds a different view.
“Were we playing in this group some years ago? No! Are we a rugby nation? No! We should be praised for being in this level. We just have to maintain our status,” he said.
Irish said playing at this level is an indication that rugby is developing in Botswana. He said the team had financial challenges and that made it difficult for BRU to implement its plans.
“We are doing well in school rugby and in a few years’ time, we are going to be one of the best nations. Look at countries such as Ivory Coast, who have physically huge players, which is an advantage for them,” he said.
He said there is need for the private sector to assist the Union and even the government subvention should be increased.