Johannesburg - Gert Oosthuizen, deputy sports minister, was gracious in defeat as France won the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup from the more fancied South Africa.
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Oosthuizen was speaking at a square in Pretoria after attending a public screening of the announcement with many South Africans later shedding tears and shaking their heads.
He said he was "obviously disappointed, but we must go to France and win the World Cup there again."
The Springboks overcame England 15-6 at the Stade de France in Paris to win the 2007 World Cup, their only other success since their glorious home debut in 1995.
"We must rally from this disappointment. I wish France a successful hosting. We worked very hard for so long to try and win the bid, but so did the French."
The build-up to the vote had been downplayed in the media with the struggles of the national football and rugby teams the more pressing talking points.
South Africa's football team lost home and away to Senegal within five days to be eliminated from 2018 World Cup qualifying.
Meanwhile, the Springboks suffered a record 38-3 loss to Ireland in Dublin last Saturday at the start of a European tour, which includes Tests in France, Italy and Wales.