Dan Aylward

Incredible story of Englishman Dan Aylward

  • 25 September, 2018

… The man who accidentally became the national team boss and president of Lesotho Rugby In Lesotho, the landlocked kingdom in the skies, one Brit abroad has done something that Red Rose boss Eddie Jones could never dream of.

Heard the one about the Englishman who fancied a friendly game of rugby and accidentally ended up the boss and president of an international side?

No, this isn't another rubbish dad joke. . . meet city boy Dan Aylward who did exactly that.

In 2011, Londoner Aylward, then just 24, stumbled into setting up the Federation of Lesotho rugby while out in Africa working with the Lesotho government.

All he wanted to do was to play a bit of rugby - before one thing led to another and he bizarrely became an international boss and rugby statesman overnight.

It started out with teaching six egg-chasing rookies the rules on a tennis court in the capital Maseru.

Things then quickly spiralled into high-level government meetings, before the incredible formation of Lesotho's national side.

Amazingly, it all stemmed from trying to open a bank account so they could play in the South African leagues.

And now the players have gone from marking out make-shift pitches with flour and begging local companies for steel posts to a nation with big ambitions of putting themselves on the rugby map.

The King's Stallions were hoping to get a world ranking after beating fellow neighbouring minnows Malawi, Swaziland and Botswana in a tale that Hollywood script-writers would dream of penning.

Recalling his incredible story, Hackney Rugby Club stalwart Aylward said: "At the start, all I wanted to do was to see if anyone in Lesotho played rugby.

"So I sent out an email to the expat community asking if there were any local clubs - and I got two replies.

"One saying there was one across the border 30km away in Ladybrand - another saying they sometimes saw some guys chucking a rugby ball around on the tennis courts at the gym.

"So I popped down to the tennis courts one day and there were six massive gym bunnies there. It was a bit intimidating at first, but I plucked up the courage and asked if I could join in.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger