Cape Town - The odds are believed to have unexpectedly lengthened on this city getting a stint soon in the HSBC Sevens World Series sun.
Sport24 understands that, from a situation at roughly this time last year when it seemed a switch for the South African leg of the series from Port Elizabeth to the Mother City (and probably the under-used Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 soccer World Cup) was almost a fait accompli from the 2015/16 tournament onward, the Eastern Cape metropolis may instead get an extension of unknown duration.
The “Friendly City” stages its fourth successive Sevens jamboree this weekend, as the Blitzbokke try to match their feat in Dubai a few days ago of winning that leg; in doing so they advanced to second place behind Fiji on the global standings after two events of the 2014/15 campaign.
It has been known for some time that tenders for a new hosting stint were going to be invited by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) after the latest PE staging of the Sevens.
Cape Town and Port Elizabeth are the two contenders - but in a fairly surprising turn of events, the incumbents are believed to have to their noses in front for retaining the event.
The Eastern Province Kings and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality are fighting tenaciously to keep their grip on the Sevens, after Sport24 reported last year that a powerful lobby in the International Rugby Board and at sponsorship/commercial level was agitating for the SA tournament to switch to the bigger, more tourist-luring city further south.
It had previously had nine years in the relative backwater of George.
Between them, the Kings and the Metro are known to have come up with an economic impact study showing the event to be worth considerably more than R200-million to the ailing region, whilst the Metro will probably also commit to sponsoring the Sevens.
Still, the latest event may be important in gauging whether the Port Elizabeth public are voting increasingly with their feet for it to be preserved in their neck of the woods - there has been prior criticism that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium isn’t exactly filled to the rafters for the Sevens.
SARU will not comment on the matter at present; it is in the hands of their executive committee.
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