Botswana national men’s 15s rugby team, the Vultures are in camp in preparation for the Africa Silver Cup scheduled for Zambia from the 8th to 14th, July.
Speaking in an interview with Global Sport, Botswana Rugby Union president Lesedi Keekae, highlighted that the team has been in a training camp for four weeks now. “They had a friendly in South Africa against a Soweto select club on the 16th of June where they lost 15-12,” he said. “Our intension is to take them for an intensive training camp in Jwaneng from the 29th of June until the 2nd of July to further their preparations.” The team is mentored by Seabe Gabaitsiwe and he is assisted by Munya Mhonda.
Formerly known as Africa 1B, the cup is the second tournament of the 1st division of Rugby Africa competitions. The tournament is composed of six teams with an annual relegation of one team which is replaced by the winner of the Rugby Africa Bronze Cup. The winner of the Silver Cup 2018 will be promoted to the Rugby Africa Gold Cup 2019. The first teams of each pool will battle it out in a final match to determine the winner of the tournament.
“Since we have new coaches who also have brought in new young players, our aim at the competition for now is to maintain the silver cup status,” stated Keekae. “But we are going there to win and possibly elevate to Gold Cup because once you play there, you are then eligible to play in the world cup qualifiers which is our dream; it’s not easy but we are going to try our level best.”
He said their preparations are however crippled by limited finances as it is always the case with local sports. “Our wish was for our team to play at least two competitive games before the competition but that’s likely not to happen due to limited finances, preparing a team needs a lot of money. We are nevertheless grateful for the grant we have got from Botswana National Sport Commission as it helps us here and there,” Keekae noted.
This year’s tournament will be played by Botswana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Algeria, Senegal and Zambia. Three matches will be played for each pool (North and South) on the 8th of July, 11th of July and the 14th of July 2018. There winners of pools will clash in a final encounter on the 25th of August 2018 to determine the team which will play in Gold Cup next year.
The local team managed to maintain their silver cup status due to score aggregates as they were the better losing side at the same competition which was held in Morocco last year.