Lesotho Rugby Sevens (7s) national team ended the year on a high note when they won the 2019 eSwatini Rugby 7s international tournament played last Friday and Saturday in Mbabane. This was the first time for Lesotho to compete in this tournament.
The Lesotho national side were on rampage from the onset, after beating Mpumalanga Black Cats 24-5 before outplaying eSwatini Elephants by 17-5.
In their last game of the group stage, Lesotho outperformed Maputo by 44-0. Lesotho also booked a spot in the tournament's final, following the team's 10-5 victory over eSwatini's first team.
In the final, Lesotho slapped Mozambique by 28-17 to scoop the first podium stand.
Talking to Lesotho Times, the team's assistant coach Liteboho Mahase said it wasn't an easy tournament to win, citing that the semifinals and final were the toughest phases of the tournament. Mahase led the team after head coach Morapeli Motaung was left behind due to work commitments.
"Our first game against Mpumalanga it was a very tough game but I think we managed due to fitness. The second game against eSwatini Elephants was also a challenging game, they are a good team.
"Maputo was not so bad but we managed to outplay them. The semifinal and the final were most difficult games for the tournament. It was not an easy walk but rugby is rugby, and we fought hard to be champions," he said.
Preparations for this tournament suffered a major setback after the team had to release six players who had embarked onto an army recruitment course that started earlier this month. The players were later replaced by new players some of whom were competing internationally for the first time, but Mahase said that the mixture of experienced and new players worked well for his charges.
"I had new players and experienced players in my team, thus I had a good balance of players," mentioned Mahase.
Winning this tournament saw the team adding a second trophy into their cabinet after winning the 2019 Rugby Africa Sevens, Southern Region tournament in Lesotho in August this year.
Lesotho Rugby 7s in eSwatini
Players: Kubutu Makhakhe, Kelello Linakane, Bokang Ncheke, Lebatla Lebatla, Bakoena Nkesi, Sechaba Mokhele, Karabo Mphaki, Reatile Joele, Thulo Ralei, Lebohang Nthako, Motheo Mokhothu and Amos Motaung.
Acting head coach: Liteboho Mahase.