Rugby Africa Sevens tourney postponed




MASERU – Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) has taken the decision to postpone the regional Rugby Africa Sevens tournament that was due to be played in the country’s capital, Maseru, this weekend. According to information emerging from the national federation, logistical challenges have caused the postponement. The tournament is meant to also serve as a qualifying contest for 2022 Commonwealth Games to be played in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8.

The Commonwealth Games is an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The 2022 Games are officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games but commonly known as Birmingham 2022. The Sevens contest, Public Eye has found out, was initially billed for the island state of Mauritius before Lesotho was identified as the preferred host – having also put up a bid to host but was beaten to the feat by Mauritius. Mauritius pulled out of hosting the spectacle due to Covid-19 pandemic threats.

FLR Secretary General, Litšitso Motšeremeli, revealed during an interview that the regional tourney is now penciled for the end of this month while final logistical preparations were being handled. “The Sevens tourney will no longer take place from January 15 to 16 because of logistical challenges,” said Motšeremeli in an interview with Public Eye last Saturday.

“As a result, the tournament has been rescheduled to take place from January 29 to 30.” Lesotho was yet to confirm venues for the upcoming Sevens, with the Setsoto Stadium and Machabeng College Sports Grounds being favourites to host. “Management at Machabeng has said they will only be in a position to make a decision on the availability of the venue on Monday, while we are yet to meet with the Director of Sports concerning the availability of the Setsoto Stadium.

“That’s one of the many reasons for the postponement. I had to ask Rugby Africa to postpone the tournament because the venue was yet to be confirmed.”   The Sevens tournament is the Commonwealth qualifiers for both for men and women rugby national teams. The Lesotho Women Rugby Sevens Team will be making its debut at the Sevens competition, while the male team competed in the tournament, clinching victory in 2019. The 2019 tourney was held in Lesotho.

The Lesotho Sevens teams face Botswana, eSwatini, Malawi, Zambia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) Public Relations Officer, Fetang Selialia, is, however, on record indicating that the LNOC will manage to send only a single Sevens team to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games should the two teams qualify. This would be a history-making appearance in sports that Lesotho competes in the global multisport competition.

Rugby Africa is one of the six regional associations of World Rugby and assembles African nations that play 15s and 7s rugby; they organise the men’s and women’s Rugby Africa Cup and Sevens tournaments as well as the Under-20 Barthés Trophy. To date, Rugby Africa counts 39 members, among whom 24 are full or associate members of World Rugby. The organisation is driven by a dedicated team and works in close collaboration with national unions to develop rugby through trainings, workshops, mass participation programmes, modern tournament formats and communication.

Previously known as the Confederation of African Rugby, it was founded in 1986 and was officially launched in Tunis, Tunisia, with inaugural members Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles and Madagascar. The first organised competitions were the qualifications for the Rugby World Cups 1995 and 1999. Rugby sevens was first played in the Commonwealth Games in 1998 with the inclusion of a men’s competition, in which New Zealand defeated Fiji to take the Gold Medal. The inaugural women’s rugby sevens competition took place in 2018 when New Zealand beat Australia in the final.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *