CEO Jurie Roux admits that losing the 2023 World Cup bid could have significant repercussions for South African rugby. JON CARDINELLI in London reports.
The rugby world was rocked on Wednesday by World Rugby’s decision to award France the right to host the 2023 World Cup. South Africa went into the final stage of the process as World Rugby’s recommended candidate. When it came to the vote, however, France beat South Africa 24-15.
SA Rugby president Marx Alexander expressed his disappointment with the decision in the wake of the announcement. Roux was more subtle in his criticism of a result that brings the integrity of World Rugby and this entire process into question.
‘It would be naive to say that there aren’t [alliances] that play a role in the process. Our process was very transparent. We did our best and I don’t think we could have done more,’ said Roux.
‘We put forward a good bid which independent people agreed with. We could only trust that other people saw it the same way, which they didn’t, and we have to live with that.
‘We just put forward the facts. In the end, people disagreed with that and decided that someone else [France] could do it better.
‘Maybe the only silver lining is that we won the World Cup the last time we played there,’ Roux chirped, in reference to the Boks’ title triumph over England in the final of the 2007 tournament at Stade de France.
Roux confirmed that he was not attempting to make light of a significant decision. He adopted a more sombre tone as he spoke about what the loss of the 2023 tournament could mean for South African rugby.
‘Today’s result has got a material effect on our country,’ he said. ‘This would have been great for South Africa. Great for our sport. The Fifa World Cup was there in 2010, and we had more than a 20% uptake in football. We would have had the same happening [with the 2023 Rugby World Cup].
‘When you host a World Cup, there is an aspiration platform. On top of that is a financial platform that creates enough revenue that can further your development plans. Maybe stem the outflow of players [leaving South Africa] in search of the euro, pound, yen and soon the dollar.
‘We will now have to face things in a different way after this result. Luckily we do have the British & Irish Lions tour soon . Hopefully that will create new avenues and revenues.
‘We’re not vindictive,’ Roux said when asked if SA Rugby would attempt to discover exactly who had voted against South Africa’s bid. ‘You can’t agree with the process and then go cry foul afterwards.
‘We won’t be counting the votes, and we won’t be phoning anybody. We will do the honourable thing, as we have already done.’
Roux confirmed that SA Rugby would be bidding for the tournament in future.
‘Absolutely. You can’t win it if you’re not in it. It’s like the lottery. Actually it’s a lot like a lottery. My ticket obviously had the wrong numbers today.
‘If it’s up to me, then absolutely, we will bid again. We’re a proud country. We’ve got a fantastic track record in terms of delivering major events. We have to try again and do it for our union and everyone sitting back in South Africa.
‘They are bitterly disappointed. We have to bring the tournament back. Hopefully in 2027. I’m not sure whether myself and Mark will still be around. Mark purely out of age and I may move on and do something different. The reality is we have to try again.’
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