Rugby Sevens team prepare for Olympics pre-qualifiers



Maseru — The national rugby sevens squad is all set for the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Olympics pre-qualifiers. Lesotho will compete in Group 2 in the next continental pre-qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, which will be held in Mauritius from June 24–25.

Group 2 also includes Algeria, Botswana, and the hosts, Mauritius.  The main qualifiers, will be held in Zimbabwe from September 16–17.  Lesotho will be competing in its first-ever Olympic Sevens qualifying event, and preparations for the team’s journey to Mauritius have already been made, according to FLR President Fetang Selialia.

“The team will leave on June 22 and is expected in Mauritius later that day,” he said in an interview with Public Eye. “As we talk, Rugby Africa has already sold tickets (flight tickets) for a total of 12 players plus the team manager, doctor, and coach.” If Lesotho performed well at the pre-qualifiers in Mauritius, Selialia, a former rugby player, said that Tier 1 nations like Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Kenya would be the hardest opponents to play against during the major Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Qualifiers in September.

The FLR boss said the South African sevens team, Blitz Bokke, would want to try and qualify for the Paris Olympics at the African sevens tournament after they failed to qualify during the most recent HSBC World Sevens Series, which would also make the September qualifiers tougher than before.

“Tier 1 countries such as Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Kenya are already waiting for the main qualifiers in September, and this means countries that will perform well at the pre-qualifiers will face them in Zimbabwe, and these are among the toughest opponents to play against on the continent,” he said.

“As if that is not enough, what is also likely to be a tough challenge for us is that Blitz Bokke will want to try and qualify for the Paris Olympics through continental games since they could not qualify during the recent HSBC World Sevens Series.” Selialia said Blitz Bokke normally qualify for the Olympics through the HSBC World Seven Series, but this time around the South African Sevens team only finished in position seven.

Only the top four teams qualified for the Olympics. “So it is going to be a bit tougher,” Selialia said. “We also have a good team, and we want to play in the main qualifiers in Zimbabwe,” he further noted. The Lesotho rugby boss said he would be travelling to Mauritius to support the national team.  “I am also going to Mauritius, but not as part of the team. I have found means to go there so that I could watch the games live.”

The Lesotho Rugby Sevens team started preparing for the pre-qualification last month. The team is training at Setsoto Stadium, which has been banned by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) for not meeting the required standards.

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