Category: Editorials

Tackling tech with Molibi

Tackling Tech – Harnessing the Power of Technology in Rugby

The purpose of technology is to reduce the amount of effort used to achieve a goal. When it comes to rugby, that goal is enjoyment. Enjoyment for the players and enjoyment for the fans.

Track your Advantage

“Fitness is the key to enjoying rugby”.

group of men playing rugby on grass field
The fitter you are, the more you can enjoy the game. Photo by Patrick Case on

We all like to watch feats of physical prowess. It is one of the main reasons we love rugby. When we see Richie McCaw make a run at breakneck speed, tackle, and win the ball under pressure, we cheer. We cheer because, we want to see people do things that we did not think were possible.

Technology allows us to track our efforts. By tracking our effort we can build the capability to perform at levels we did not think we were capable of. Science has many theories about how to get to that level, but what they all share is measuring and tracking.

It is truly incredible how much we can track with technology in rugby. Heart rate, blood pressure, injury, sickness, and concussion risk can all be tracked and measured. The data can then be harnessed by rugby clubs to get the best our of their players, and players the best experience in the game.

Stay Appy

There are several apps that supply training plans and tracking solutions for rugby. Personally, I use a running and body weight app to make sure that specific targets are met (I measure unbroken burpees and 5k time for fitness). However, I want to discuss an option that clubs and players can use beyond basic individual development in the game.

GPS Tracking system from Catapult
GPS Tracking systems are becoming more common place in rugby and their prices are coming down to be available for even small clubs and unions. Harlequins / Catapult

Most people are aware of the small limps in the nape of most professional rugby player jerseys. In there is a GPS system that tracks the amount of running that a player does and allows coaches to pinpoint the positions and movements during any given passage of play. Recently, with the much-needed focus on concussion safety, these devices have been configured to measure the G-Forces. G-forces the force of gravity or acceleration on a body. This measure can help doctors understand just how much strain a player has been through, and make sure that those are kept within ranges of safety. These devices have also been used during practice and help sports scientist track physical strain. This helps us understand if a player has been overexerting themselves physically and need a rest.

These devices can be configured at a team, or club level to ensure that all players are meeting training metrics. It will also allow players to share their details for fitness or training competitions during the off-season. I have often heard the saying, that fitness is not built during practice, but in the hours in between. This allows coaches to hold players accountable for what they do outside the precious minutes that are spent on the field.

Technology is changing rugby

Technology is offering several solutions to make the players, fans, and coaches experiences safer and more efficient. While it will not decide the score, we need to harness technology to perform automatable tasks and allow everybody in the game to focus on what will give them the most enjoyment.

I look forward to the increasing affordability and acceptance of technology in rugby. It will help all rugby players perform better, help fans appreciate the game better, reduce the risk to the players and make the game more accessible to world, which is one of our values and goals in the rugby community.

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My Favorite - Ludo Monyai featured image

My Favorite – The Pioneering spirit of Ludo Monyai

Ludo Tje Monyai is one of Botswana’s longest lasting female rugby players and has an inspirational journey. Many young girls do not know her story. I hope you read about her you will be as inspired as I am.


Ludo was born in Serowe, she grew up in Mmadinare and attended St. Peter’s primary school. She came to Gaborone and did her standard 7 at Boswa Primary school, followed by Maikano Junior Secondary school for form 1-3. Finally, she finished her senior high school at St. Joseph’s collage and that was when she was when she played rugby coached by Mr. Bosire and Mr. Mbaebae.

After clearing high school, she joined University of Botswana known as UB Rhinos Rugby Club. In those days, there were only two female rugby clubs, the other being Orapa, and they only played touch and tag rugby.

Full contact rugby was introduced in 2007 at club level, with three inaugural clubs: UB Rhinos, Botwana Defence Force (BDF Cheetahs), and Orapa rugby club.


The First Botswana Women’s national team in Uganda

In 2008, some players were invited for national team trials by the Botswana Rugby Union.

“It was nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time, we had to learn new rules which were still alien to some players.” Says Ludo.

Selected players were introduced to, then women’s national team head coach, Shaun Lees who is now the head coach for Gaborone Rugby Football Club and heads the Botswana Rugby Union Technical committee.

After training camp with Coach Lees, they traveled to Jwaneng and Francistown in preparation for their first Africa Women’s 7s tournament. The newly assembled team played against Zimbabwe in Francistown where they were divided into two teams. Zimbabwe did the same, making it four teams. This allowed everyone a chance to get experience and understand the game better. One Botswana team won and the other drew.

Ludo went on to say, “ I remember Mr. Gareth Gilbert came to one of our training sessions and taught us how to clean rucks. He used the words “socks” meaning go low as if we were pulling our socks. Khina Masinki also assisted us as a referee to understand the calls and hand signals.”. Andrew Paxinos , former Botswana national team coach, assisted them with catching and passing. Experienced male players also came through and helped them because it was the first ever Ladies National Team.

The Africa Women’s Sevens tournament took place in Uganda that year. The closer they got to the tournament, Coach Lees would cut one person every week until he had 12 players for the tournament. “Shaun made it very easy for us. We bonded and gelled very well as a team. Every two weeks he would write us what we called ‘love letters.’ In each letter he would write our weaknesses, strengths and where to improve on.” The excited girls had never been abroad let alone been on a plane.

The team with Ludo amongst them, got to Uganda, played and lost all their games but they did not despair. It was their first time at an elite level. The experience made them better players and more courageous.

Shaun Lees Love letter
Ludo’s love letter from Coach Shaun Lees


Ludo with the 2018 LKC Canon Jaguars

In 2017, Ludo moved from UB Rhinos to Livingstone Kolobeng College Canon Jaguars. While she continued to play, she dedicated herself to team administration. Her dedication to team administration was noticed as Ludo was appointed team manager for the Botswana Ladies national team for the 2018 Africa Women’s 7s tournament, hosted in Botswana . A team manager leads the team, overseeing the daily operations and guiding and assisting the players with anything they might need. “In sevens, the team manager is the one who makes the subs, the coach would just say number 7 for number 2.” Recalls Ludo.

She remembers it being very overwhelming. That said, she quickly learned that rugby is a team game on AND off the field. Alleck Maphosa, the now referees manager, helped Ludo fill forms before matches. While Zinwele “Zee” Khumalo Development Manager at Botswana Rugby Union, assisted her on what she needed to do as a team manager.

“I have grown from being a player, I have learnt a lot from different coaches, from other players, rugby is a team sport, you can’t do anything alone. You need to get help from everyone and advice from each other.” Says Ludo.


Rugby has the power to bring people of all walks of life together. Ludo’s passion for the game was forged on the trip to Uganda with Botswana’s National team. The bonds she made there, through mutual passion for the game, have endured ever since.

Her advice to the new players:

“Continue playing rugby, continue working within rugby and keep smiling.”

Ludo Monyai
What it means. to me column header image

What it means to me – A quote by Gen. Patton

General Patton was a World War II general who served in the United States Army. Very often he had to make decisions in the heat of battle with limited information, and even less time. But he knew that hesitation in combat could be deadly. It would afford the enemy the opportunity to maneuver and defeat his troops. Which often meant death.


article quote 1
I trust that, more often than not, the coordination and unified effort of the group, will overcome the shortcomings in the plan

Now, obviously, in rugby we are involved in a far less deadly endeavor than General Patton. We’re not worried about bullets and bombs, but rather tackles and tries. That is not to say, though, that this quote has no meaning for us.

For a coach like myself, I have to provide instruction to my players in the heat of a game, not battle. I can take advice from assistants, and sometimes even players, but a plan has to be made and provided to the players. Once the whistle goes, I do not have time to toy around with every bit of information, or concept, to find the perfect plan. If I see something wrong, I have to instruct the players in what to do to fix it. If I see an opportunity, I have to instruct the players in how to take advantage of it.

This means, it may not be perfect, but if everyone gives their all, I trust that, more often than not, the coordination and unified effort of the group, will overcome the shortcomings in the plan.


Supporting your teammate plan, or you may lose the game and points.

When I was a younger player one of the most frustrating things was when a team mate did something I wasn’t expecting, that wasn’t “the plan”. Particularly early on in my career, this had the effect of getting me disengaged. I could end up not doing anything. Sometimes my fellow team mates would do the same thing. Can you imagine what that looked like? One player going off with the ball, while two, three, or more of their teammates stood still and watched them? It must have been a sight, for spectators and the coach.

The breakthrough came when in one game I just started throwing myself into supporting my teammates ideas of the moment. Instead of one player alone, they were SUPPORTED by their teammate, and it created more opportunities for them and myself. I realized that my teammates plan may have had a low chance of success if we participated, but it usually had NO chance of success if we didn’t.


If you’re a coach, hesitation can be the difference between scoring and being scored upon. Don’t hesitate to communicate the plan until it’s perfect. Communicate it with your players with clarity and confidence.

If you are a player, participate fully in the plans of your coach, but if your teammate sees an opportunity, and improvises, participate in the improvisation.

Support each others plans fully and your dedication is what will transform an average plan into a great one.

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