Gunners, Tuskers forced out of rugby league

EMG Gunners have been forced out of the rugby league after BDF withdrew financial support
EMG Gunners have been forced out of the rugby league after BDF withdrew financial support

EMG Gunners of Selebi-Phikwe and Francistown Tuskers are no longer part of the Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) A Division League after the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) opted not to financially support the two.

BRU president, Elijah Jones confirmed the two sides are no longer part of the league following a decision by the BDF to streamline operations.

He admitted that their absence will have an impact on the league but said other big clubs like Gaborone Hogs will carry the baton.

A rugby official, speaking on condition of anonymity, slammed the decision to dump the two clubs, arguing it would leave the league as a Gaborone affair. The official said the league now belongs to Gaborone clubs, despite claims by BRU of developing the sport countrywide.  He said the union failed to negotiate with BDF on their decision and did not give Gunners enough support.

He said the team has been one of the strong clubs in the league and its absence will make the competition weak.

Gunners became the first club outside Gaborone to win the league title in 2009 when they beat the 2007 champions, BDF Cheetahs.  “We have a development side in Selebi-Phikwe and that is one of the positive things done by the club.

“Now without the league, we are developing children for nothing. We are motivating them by hosting tournament around schools in town. “It will be only a few who will go for further studies in Gaborone who will find clubs,” he said.

He said the demise has not only affected the clubs alone as sponsors are also feeling the pinch because they were gaining mileage from associating with EMG Gunners.

He noted that the club has a plot to be developed in the near future behind the Phikwe Stadium. Meanwhile, BRU and DHL Africa are in the process of wrapping league sponsorship negotiations.

Jones said DHL Africa is expected to be the main sponsor of the BRU A Division League. Despite that, Jones said everything is in order for the league to start on March 6.  University of Botswana Rhinos will kick off the league by welcoming debutants, Jaguars from Livingstone Kolobeng College.

BDF Cheetahs will play Mochudi Rugby Club and Gaborone Hogs will face Botho University Ryders.

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