Cape Town - South Africa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid
was given an international vote of confidence through the reporting of two of
the game’s most influential rugby writers.
Stephen Jones of the London Sunday Times
described South Africa’s bid as ‘magnificent’ and the New Zealand Herald’s
Gregor Paul wrote that South
Africa, arguably, had the greatest ability of the three bidders to generate
that wow factor experience.
Both writers acknowledged the strength of
France and Ireland as potential hosts, but Jones was quick to caution his
audience that it was not a two-horse northern hemisphere race.
‘Last week, several accounts of the media presentation of bids
mentioned only Ireland and France, as if South Africa have no chance
whatsoever. Another account said that Ireland were “hot favourites”. Neither
assertion is true,' wrote Jones.
‘The truth is that the South African bid
is magnificent. They have a sound track record in staging big events and their
stadiums are all sensational. The country has good communications and for those
who travel with open eyes and hearts, it is a magnificent place.
‘And, tellingly, their bid document
features the words of the late President Mandela on page three. Memories of the
glorious weeks in South Africa in 1995 can still pull the heart strings 22
Jones and Paul highlighted political
negativity, real or perceived, as the only obstacle in South Africa hosting the
Rugby World Cup for a second time.
Jones wrote that if the South Africans
could convince World Rugby’s authorities that their money is safe and that none
would be salted away, then South Africa could win the right to again bring the
tournament to Africa.
South African Deputy President Cyril
Ramaphosa’s presence in London for the bid presentations on September 25 would
have done much to allay fears, and all reports were flattering and
complimentary of the Deputy President’s impact when addressing World Rugby’s
South African Chief Executive Jurie Roux
superbly led the technical summary of South Africa’s bid, Springbok World
Cup-winning captains Francois Pienaar (1995) and John Smit (2007) added
presence, charm and integrity to the South African bid team and South African
rugby could not have asked for a more favourable government impression than that
which was created by Ramaphosa.
assessing the three bidding countries, applauded Ireland and France as worthy
of hosting the World Cup, but he focused on the option of South Africa as the
one he would want to see winning World Rugby’s General Council vote on November
Paul wrote: ‘The
World Cup hasn't been in South Africa since 1995 and to many, it remains one of
the best - certainly one of the more emotionally charged and inspiring. To
leave South Africa out in the cold for at least another four years would be a
shocking way to treat one of the aristocrats of the game.’
Paul argued that
deciding a World Cup host shouldn't be a cold, clinical exercise made on the
back of a handful of grey men and women pouring over spreadsheets and giving
their view on the numbers.
economics, the politics, the sponsors, the time zones, the broadcast
implications and whatever else the money men endless fret about,’ he wrote. ‘It
should be an emotional process, driven by the heart and not the head. All three
bids have the potential to deliver the money World Rugby is looking for.
‘A World Cup is
an experience more than an event. (South Africa 2023) would be an odyssey
through a traditional rugby power - as close as anyone could ever get to
re-enacting an old-school tour.
‘It would be a
tournament dripping in nostalgia and yet everywhere there would be constant
reminders of the changing face of South Africa.’
Ireland’s improvement on the field in the last five years, with the apex being
2016’s history-making first ever win against the All Blacks in Chicago, but he
said the Boks remained one of the game’s icons.
legitimately argue they are the fast rising, new force of world rugby and they
are due some kind of acknowledgement,’ said Paul. ‘But South Africa have won
two World Cups and the Boks have been a rugby heavyweight since year dot. South
Africa's need and right to be acknowledged is greater than Ireland's.
‘And maybe above
all else, it is simply time South Africa was shown a bit of love: rewarded for
its long and rich rugby history and contribution.’