Sigh of relief as Likatola escapes punishment

Sigh of relief as Likatola escapes punishment



Lesotho’s national rugby team, Likatola, will not face punishment from Rugby Africa after it failed to honour a tie against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the Africa Cup Division 2 championship in Rwanda two weeks ago.

The development was confirmed by Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) secretary general LitšitsoMotšeremeli on Tuesday meaning Likatola can breathe a sigh of relief as they prepare for their next assignment, an international against Malawi in August.

The four-team Africa Cup Division 2 tournament featuring Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Lesotho ran from May 15 to 21. But, because of a delay in funding, Likatola arrived late and missed their semi-final clash against DRC on May 18.

As a result, Lesotho only played the third and fourth place playoff beating Burundi 6-3.

However, the historic win, Likatola’s first in an international competition, was overshadowed by the threat of punishment from Africa Rugby.

Motšeremeli said the team had planned to leave earlier but its plans were scuppered when FLR could not get funds in time from the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation.

Ultimately, the federation only received money on Tuesday, May 17 throwing their preparations into disarray.

“We lost the game (against DRC) by forfeit; the team we were supposed to play against was given full points. Lucky enough, we will not be punished for missing the game. We explained ourselves and (Africa Rugby) really understood,” Motšeremeli told thepost.

He added: “We were supposed to have left the country on Sunday (May 15) so that on Monday we could have a pre-meeting (in Kigali), but the money only arrived late on Tuesday and we also missed a plane when we got to OR Tambo (airport in South Africa on Tuesday night).”

Likatola qualified for the Africa Cup Division 2 competition last July after defeating Swaziland 13-10 at BambathaTšita Sports Arena. Prior to the Rwanda event, Likatola hosted Botswana in an international match as part of their preparations.

Motšeremeli, though, refused to blame the sports ministry for delaying to provide funding despite knowing about Lesotho’s participation at the Africa Cup well in advance.

“We received the money late and I don’t want to blame anyone at all,” he said.

Despite beating Burundi, victory was not enough for Lesotho to move up Africa Rugby’s ladder as only the tournament winner gained promotion to the governing boy’s 1C tier of nations.

The championship was won by hosts Rwanda who beat DRC 17-10 in the final and Motšeremeli said Likatola will now focus on an international tie away to Malawi in August.

Meanwhile, FLR will host its annual Rugby 7’s tournament from June to October.

Motšeremeli said the federation has reached an agreement with Maseru City Council (MCC) to use its facilities mainly Pitso Ground and the MCC ground in Katlehong.

“Rugby 7’s is our annual seven-a-side rugby tournament and it will start in June and end in October. We have an agreement with the MCC and we will be working together. In exchange we will be able to use their facilities which are Pitso Ground and the ground in Katlehong. Pitso Ground is mainly used by Matlama (Football Club), we are looking to make the ground in Katlehong a rugby ground,” Motšeremeli said.



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