The rise and rise of Likatola

The rise and rise of Likatola

Maseru – Lesotho rugby’s meteoric rise continued last Saturday when national side Likatola sealed promotion to Rugby Africa’s Bronze Cup with a 67-3 thumping of Malawi in the South Region 1D Cup.
The resounding win secured Lesotho’s victory of a tri-nations tournament also involving Swaziland which was played at Machabeng College.
More importantly, the result means Lesotho finished top of the Africa Regional Log with 10 points, one point ahead of Ghana, to secure Likatola promotion to the next tier of African rugby.

Rugby Africa Regional Standings

1. Lesotho 10 points
2. Ghana 9 points
3. Burkina Faso 6 points
4. Swaziland 5 points
5. Mali 4 points
6. Benin 4 points
7. Niger 3 points
8. Togo 1 point
9. Malawi 0 points
10. Burundi (did not play)
11. DRC (did not play)
12. Gabon (did not play)

Likatola’s triumph underlines a magical five years celebrations for the Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) since it was formed in 2012.
The association was formed by a group of rugby fans who dedicated their lives and time to growing sport in the country with the help of the FLR’s first president Dan Aylward who has since returned to United Kingdom.
Fetang Selia-lia, who was originally the vice president, took over in 2014 and the association formed a national rugby team that started competing internationally.

Just last December, Lesotho was granted full membership into the continent’s governing body, Rugby Africa, during the annual general assembly held in Botswana. Reflecting back to the days when the association was formed, secretary general Litšitso Motšeremeli said they are still surprised with the successes that the association has achieved in a short time.

He continued that they did not anticipate that they will be in the bronze category after just five years of competing.
“It means a lot to us though we never thought at this time we will be promoted,” he said. “It has always been our dream for us to be promoted but we never thought it would be around this time, but we are ready.

“We are going to get our boys ready for the big tournament coming up next year. It came as a surprise and shock to us, we are hoping to also build young players who will take over from these ones when they retire,” he added.
“So we are going to build from primary schools, high schools and tertiary level further to our senior clubs. In the long run we are going to build a stable club from this development. We are happy.”

Head coach Roy Nyasha-Zhou said he is proud of his team for gaining promotion to the Bronze Cup.
He also revealed that due to the increased games in their new category, he is planning to have a second team that will compete and serve as a backup for the first team. He also explained how their play has changed over the years and their secret to success.

“We have players, we have some young players and I am thinking of forming a second team,” Nyasha-Zhou said.
“We have very good strong players who are capable of making it to the first team, so I am thinking let’s build a second team and make it to play games so that we can always have continuity and fill up the gaps.

“Right now we don’t have many play makers. Bongi Machesetsa is our playmaker and when he is not here we have some problems so we need to have some very good playmakers,” he continued. “We are very good at set pieces and score most of our points from set pieces. The first time when we played Swaziland we were not good at set pieces that is why we beat them 13-10, but now we were good at set pieces and we had a solid game plan and it worked for us,” he said

“We play the New Zealand style of rugby. We copy from the best, we love New Zealand. We use set pieces, set pieces create gaps for us to go. That’s how the big teams play, we just copy how they play, and we want our play to be of a high standard,” he said.

Luciah Phahla

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