Cape Town - Amid all the Irish and French propaganda and attacks on World Rugby’s decision to recommend South Africa as the host nation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, it needs reinforcing just why South Africa was deemed superior to Ireland and France.
The importance of the weighted bid scorecard, designed by World Rugby and agreed to by the World Rugby General Council, also can’t be stressed enough.
The scorecard also is a bit more than an individual opinion of a bean counter.
For the first time in the tournament’s history each bidding country was given a guideline and a measurement to be considered a competent host.
South Africa, in three previous bids, had lost out because of horse trading, back room deals and rugby politics. The country’s rugby bosses only agreed to bid for 2023 because of the independent nature of the process, with so much importance attached to the independent and technical review report.
South Africa trusted the strength of a bid based on analyses from recognised industry experts.
All three bidding countries were aware of how influential the report would be, as this was made clear to them in the bidding process. All three agreed and all three, in the code of conduct signed, acknowledged the protocols relevant to the recommendation decision.
Ireland and France have chosen to ignore the protocols and have shown absolute disregard for the code of conduct they signed.
Media reports in the last week have been filled with Irish and French rhetoric on why South Africa isn’t equipped to host a tournament in 2023, when its existing infrastructure and competency is at a more advanced stage now than 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts Japan.
South Africa’s campaign focused on the practical reality that the country was ready to host the World Cup now. World Rugby’s report, endorsed by the World Rugby Board, supports the view. It stated, in confirming South Africa as the recommended host, that South Africa was a clear winner when all RWC required categories were assessed against fellow bidders France and Ireland.
South Africa’s rugby bosses have found themselves in a no-win situation in the last week because to react to the French and Irish media attacks would mean they were also in breach of the code of conduct. Equally, it is not for them to defend why World Rugby rated their bid the best.
South African rugby bosses haven’t attacked the merits or lack of merit of Ireland’s bid. They haven’t attacked elements of the French bid, whose security state of emergency following terrorist attacks earlier in the year, was only lifted on November 1.
However, this absence has allowed French and Irish bid team leaders to populate the traditional media and social media platforms with one-sourced inaccuracies. Both France and Ireland have focused on South Africa’s apparent failings, yet glossed over the very failings that saw them ranked two and three in what World Rugby described as an exhaustive and extensive and independent technical analysis of whose bid would serve World Rugby the best.
The decision is not based on how hosting RWC 2023 would benefit the individual bidding countries. It is about World Rugby as the controlling body of the sport.
Ireland’s bid leadership, in particular, has been an embarrassment with the ignorance of their many media rants. French president Bernard Laporte has acted like a spoilt child who didn’t win and refuses to accept he was second best.
Laporte’s petulance is nothing new but Ireland’s behavior is very new to a rugby nation whose people have always been at the forefront of the game’s integrity.
Ireland a year ago beat the All Blacks for the first time in 112 years. A fortnight later they lost to the All Blacks in Dublin. The reaction was again one of blame and self pity. Their media refused to believe a team that had beaten them for a century was again just too strong. One neutral wrote that it took the Irish just once win against the All Blacks in 112 years to become England in the way they moaned, grunted and groaned about why they came second.
The Irish bid team behavior has been disgraceful because of the obvious intent to be malicious in attacks on South Africa. They have deliberately played the man and not the ball. The Irish conduct has pissed on the ethos of the game. It’s been insulting and it’s been ugly.
Ireland’s stadia is so lacking in the definition of world class sporting stadia - and it has nothing to do with capacity. For the Irish then to gaze into their crystal ball and declare South Africa in 2023 will be unable to fill the stadiums is a reflection of why the Irish bid failed so miserably technically.
If the Irish focus had been more on building the necessary stadia instead on whether South Africa could fill their already built stadia then perhaps it would be them asking France and South Africa to respect the recommendation.
For the record, three of the five categories on which the bids were based, totaled 65 percent of the 100 percent weighted scorecard and South Africa scored the highest in the most important categories.
Ireland and France’s bid leadership did not spend the last 18 months analysing every detail of South Africa’s bid; World Rugby did, as it did with the respective bids of Ireland and France. It is on this basis and not an emotional outpouring of disappointment that they announced why South Africa was the recommended host nation.