The National Rugby Sevens Menâ€™s team failed to defend their title which they won in 2019 after finishing in second place in the Rugby Africa Regional Sevens South Tournament which was held at the Mejametalana Airbase in Maseru this past weekend.
The tournament was hosted by the Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) on Saturday and Sunday, after the rights of hosting were awarded to them when tentative hosts, Mauritius closed their borders due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 that rocked most Southern African countries.
The tournament was initially scheduled to take place from 15 to 16 January 2022 but was however postponed after the re-awarding of the rights by Rugby Africa to Lesotho.
Lesotho had both the menâ€™s and the womenâ€™s teams along with countries such as Botswana and Mauritius, while Zimbabwe and Namibia only brought womenâ€™s teams with eSwatini only bringing a menâ€™s team.
In the womenâ€™s category Lesotho lost only its games with Zimbabwe being crowned the winners. The malesâ€™ category saw Lesotho make it all the way to the finals despite a rocky start losing two games on Day-1 against Botswana by 14-17 and to Mauritius by 05-22. They only secured a 33-5 victory against eSwatini in the round-robbing fixture.
On Day-2 in the first semi-finals match, Likatola Rugby Sevens, as the Lesotho team is known, thumped Botswana 19-12 to stamp their authority but lost to eventual winners Mauritius by 7-14.
Initially when the tournament was to be hosted in Mauritius, Lesotho had not prepared a womenâ€™s team. It was only after the change of host country that the womenâ€™s team was assembled and the lack of time they had was evident in their performance in the tournament.
FLR Secretary-General LitÅ¡itso MotÅ¡eremeli was at hand to mention that the inclusion of the womenâ€™s team was so that they get international exposure, adding that despite the result, they were proud of the way both the teams faired in the tournament.
â€œThe teams did well; in fact, we are proud of both teams because they played exceptionally well. It was better than what we had expected given the caliber of countries they were playing against.
â€œFor women the challenge was that they have not played in a long time and did not have enough time to prepare for the tournament after we got the hosting rights, but apart from that they did well,â€ MotÅ¡eremeli said.
He stated that as FLR, they are appreciative of the opportunity to have hosted the tournament for the second time as it gives them good ratings with World Rugby.
Meanwhile, he adding that, Rugby Africa was impressed with the tournament which is good for the country as it still looks to be a World Rugby member despite the challenges.
â€œThe tournament was generally great and the Rugby Africa delegates were happy, and we have already received great feedback from the World Rugby, so we are happy,â€ he said.
Lesotho is not yet a World Rugby member as the process of applying for that is still ongoing. This means the country will not be going to the next stage of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games scheduled for Birmingham, England from July 22 to August 8 2022.
If Lesotho was already a member of World Rugby it would qualify for the Rugby Africa sevens championships to be held in Kampala, Uganda in March.