Cape Town - A New Zealand scribe has slammed World Rugby’s decision to name South Africa as the preferred bidder to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
This follows last week’s announcement from the board of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) that South Africa received the initial recommendation to host the tournament, based on the results of the scoring system employed.
South Africa scored 78.97%, while France's bid came second (75.88%) and Ireland’s third (72.25%).
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew subsequently said South Africa could count on their support when the final votes are cast, but according to Gregor Paul - a writer for the New Zealand Herald - it “doesn’t make sense” for South Africa to be the preferred bidder.
Paul expressed his views via a column on the newspaper’s website:
“South Africa has won heads when it was only ever supposed to win hearts, and legitimate questions now need to be asked about the evaluation process,” Paul wrote.
“Certainly France and Ireland may want to know how a country which has more than 50 murders a day has been deemed a better potential host of the 2023 World Cup.
“There are, according to official statistics, another 50 attempted murders every day in South Africa and almost 40 000 women raped annually."
Paul criticised World Rugby for failing to take into consideration the personal safety risks for fans and teams.
“Buried in the report was one line on this which stated that South Africa has, ‘a history of crime against the person’. The report was more concerned with legacy concepts, the quality of training grounds and drug testing procedures and may have overlooked the fact that supporters may not attach the same relevance to such matters when the odds of them being stabbed or shot are high.”
Paul also questioned South Africa’s ability to sell all the 2.9 million available match tickets.
World Rugby’s recommendation will now be put to the vote of the World Rugby Council in London on November 15.
All three candidates will appear on the ballot paper but World Rugby has stressed to its members that recommendation of the evaluation committee should be taken into consideration.