Nail in coffin for SA’s RWC bid?

2016-05-23 15:53
Fikile Mbalula

Cape Town – The door appears to have closed on South Africa’s intended bid, widely considered initially to be a strong one, to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

A statement issued on Monday from the Ministry of Sport, following a meeting late last week with the boards of SARU and the other major sports bodies in the country, said that the Government “would not rescind current penalties” on SARU, Cricket South Africa and others related to slow pace of transformation.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula recently placed a controversial ban on various federations from bidding for international events until such time as transformation targets had been more acceptably reached.

SARU had previously expressed interest in targeting RWC 2023, a second opportunity to host the World Cup after the iconic, successful staging of the 1995 event when the Springboks won the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.

Instead, the statement read, the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) secretariat would “work with all the federations to address the systemic gaps and make recommendations to the Minister for his consideration of progress or lack thereof when the Transformation Barometer is considered and announcement is made for the 2016/17 year under review”.

It added: “There shall be no further hosting and bidding for multi-country events by any of (five) federations as of April 25 2016.

“Of importance is the fact that the hosting and bidding restrictions do not apply to events awarded before the announcement of the punitive measures.”

That part of the statement suggests that existing, regular tournaments like the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which has an annual South African leg – presently hosted by Cape Town – will not be affected.

But given that next month is the World Rugby deadline for “interested parties” to respond with the details that formulate their bids (SA, Italy, France and Ireland have been suggested as front-runners), any bid from these shores for RWC 2023 now seems dead in the water.

*Sport24 has approached SARU for comment.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  fikile mbalula  |  rugby

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