Cape Town - Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Sport and Recreation in South Africa, said on Thursday that World Rugby’s evaluation report on South Africa’s bid was a fair and accurate reflection of the country’s ability and readiness to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
He added that the unanimous recommendation of the Rugby World Cup Ltd board in favour of South Africa was entirely deserved.
Nxesi was responding to criticisms of South Africa from members of the French and Irish teams, following their relegation to second and third place respectively in terms of their ability to host the tournament.
“The compelling and detailed nature of our bid was recognised by World Rugby and the game’s leadership in their unanimous recommendation of South Africa as the best candidate to host Rugby World Cup 2023,” said Nxesi.
“Since then there has been some commentary from our fellow candidates that in some way the process has been flawed. The suggestion has been made that the value of the Irish and French bids has been under-scored or misunderstood or South Africa’s bid inflated.
“It would be understandable if those sentiments were largely informed by disappointment. However, it is our firm conviction that World Rugby has run a rigorous and professional process of unimpeachable integrity.”
Nxesi said that this attempted undermining of the South African bid, in order to win Wednesday’s vote in London (where the World Rugby Council will vote on the host nation), was not unfamiliar to South Africa.
“Even during the 2010 FIFA World Cup bidding process, our competitors and their fellow detractors had mounted a concerted smear campaign to besmirch and malign South Africa's bid,” he said.
“They alleged that our country was grossly ill-prepared to host such a big event. They further declared our country to be the crime capital of the world. They prophesised impending doom and gloom that would befall the tournament, and to tourists and fans coming to our shores.
“We South Africans however are quite resilient and when we put our mind to something we make it work and deliver world class service and standards that, more often than not, exceeds the expectations of even the most cynical. All of the prophecies indeed came to nought. These latter day prophets and naysayers will again be proven wrong.”
Nxesi said that the perceived issues raised by Ireland and France had been addressed and answered to the satisfaction of World Rugby’s experts in the evaluation report.
“We have a long history of major, incident-free mega events and we have developed expertise over many years in our security services to ensure that remains so,” he said.
“Our financial guarantee to World Rugby is irrevocable, the Bid team’s ticketing plan will ensure minimum capacity of 91% over the tournament with some tickets provided free to communities and others costing as little as R55 for some matches.
“Drawing comparisons to the decision over the destination of the 2022 Commonwealth Games are not comparable. Durban was the only candidate and the South African government was not prepared to foot the hosting bill as presented. This was all done before any commitments, guarantees or contracts were signed. Our financial commitments to World Rugby are rock solid and enforceable in international law.
“We now wait for the outcome of the secret ballot in London on Wednesday, November 15. The bid team has done its work; we have proved that South Africa is the best choice to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.”