Cape Town - South Africa 2023 would be the most profitable to World Rugby in the tournament’s history, with South Africa’s Bid Book projecting a record 2.9 million tickets sold and the biggest ever World Cup final in stadium attendance.
The most recent World Cup in England set a new standard commercially and in global viewing and tournament attendance numbers.
We (in South Africa) are able to produce the tournament at 50% of the cost of any of the European bids. If you look at price parity, we are one third of Europe. In other words, a tourist will be able to come to South Africa for three weeks for the equivalent cost of one week in Europe,’ said South African Rugby Union’s Chief Executive Jurie Roux.
South Africa, as a tourist destination, rates among the most enticing globally but the South African Bid places a premium on South Africans and the accessibility of South Africans to experience and enjoy the six week rugby festival. South Africa’s love for sport was showcased to the world during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
And for South African Rugby to replicate the success story of Soccer’s 2010 global spectacle ticket prices had to be inclusive of the general public and had to be affordable to the working class, as much as the Bid has identified the obvious Corporate South African investment in tickets sales.
The South African Government, in underwriting the tournament financial guarantees were convinced in the economic strength of the Bid adding R27billion to the South African economy and also that the tournament spoke to South Africans in being able to experience it.
The Springboks most recent Test match against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth provided a taste of what to expect over a sustained period of six weeks should South Africa beat off the challenge of France and Ireland to host the 2023 World Cup.
The Port Elizabeth Test ticketing structure allowed for a match day stadium audience that was inclusive and not elitist. It spoke to the day to day South African as much as it did the biggest corporates.
Port Elizabeth, a week ago, commercially was a huge success story to the city of Port Elizabeth and also the South African Rugby Union.
South Africa’s Bid is very strong, technically, commercially and emotionally given South Africa’s standing within the rugby community over the last 100 years.
But make no mistake the French Bid is also very compelling, even if the bookmakers still favour Ireland.
Those Irish odds have narrowed decidedly since the South African government confirmed its support and committed the financial guarantee and the French government has publicly committed its support to the French Rugby Federation’s Bid.
South Africa’s biggest sell outside of the infra-structure legacy of FIFA 2010 is that it doesn’t have to sell the game of rugby to the South African rugby public; equally the South African sporting public. Soccer, in 2010, had a similar advantage, as was the case with the hugely successful hosting of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. There will be total rugby immersion for the duration of the tournament.
The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviewed Dr Michael Goldman on the merits of South Africa bidding.
Goldman, Assistant Professor in the Sport Management Program at the University of San Francisco and Adjunct Faculty at Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs), said: ‘Absolutely it makes sense. We should absolutely do it. There will be zero expenditure on infrastructure. World Rugby is well-run.’
Goldman, consistent with the bookmakers, felt Ireland was South Africa’s biggest challenger.
The French would disagree, with French sports minister Laura Flessel telling the media that the in-principal award of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games to Paris may act as a springboard to help the country’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
‘This (Olympic) bid is the crown piece in France's drive to establish itself as a home to major international sporting events,’ she said. ‘With its bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023, it is this same determination which France is set on showing. The State, with the French President leading the way, is strongly backing the French Rugby Federation, and is a staunch supporter to the #France2023 project.’
Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation, also drew a parallel between the Olympics and World Cup.
But the converse is that the pending 2024 Paris Olympics could detract from Rugby World Cup 2023 in that it is also viewed as secondary to the Olympics, in terms of preparation, focus and sporting appetite.