CAPE TOWN - South Africa produced a compelling and brilliant bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. It proved irresistible for World Rugby’s appointed Technical Review Committee.
But it made little impression on the General Council members, who on Wednesday disregarded the recommendation to vote overwhelmingly in favour of France, who as recently as 2007 hosted the World Cup.
France, who were a distant second to South Africa in the independent review released a fortnight ago, won the first round of voting by 18 to South Africa’s 13 and Ireland’s 8 and the second and final round 24-15 against South Africa.
The vote was secret, which again underscored the lack of transparency within World Rugby. South Africa’s bid promised World Rugby:
- A record 2.9 million ticket sales
- A record 85 000 World Cup final attendance at the National Stadium
- The most profitable World Cup in the tournament’s history
World Rugby, for the first time ever, effected a professional and objective bidding process, underpinned by the Weighted Criteria Scorecard, as well as the evaluation commissions report and independent service provider reports.
World Rugby appointed a Technical Review committee to audit and analyse all three bids and this Review Committee a fortnight ago recommended South Africa as the strongest of the bid candidates.
South Africa, according to the Technical Review Committee, scored first in three of the five main categories, as set out by World Rugby in the Bid criteria. France scored second in all three categories in which South Africa ranked first.
South Africa also scored first or tied first in 22 of the 27 sub categories. France scored first or tied first in 14 of the sub categories. South Africa also scored first in seven of the 10 sub categories in which there was a clear winner. France scored first in two of these categories.
South Africa, whose financial projections boasted of 2023 being the sport’s most profitable World Cup, scored second to France in the category of Finance, Commercial and Commitments, which made up 35% of the Technical Review Report.
The bid described South Africa as a world in one country, from beaches to vineyards, from mountain ranges to the bushveld. It said South Africa was a country alive with possibilities for visitors.
Most importantly, the bid emphasised that voting for South Africa made rugby and commercial sense.
South Africa is just one of two countries to successfully host the Cricket, Rugby and Soccer World Cups and has a proven track record of major incident-free major international events. South Africa’s bid also made a 10 commitment declaration to Rugby World Cup Limited, developed and designed to make South Africa accountable to translating the words of the bid document into tournament delivery.
The 10 commitments included:
- Honouring the custodianship of the tournament in its 10th anniversary and the game’s 200-year history
- Ensuring peak performance from the world’s best because of the bid’s player-centric focus
- That World Rugby would make money because the tournament would be low-risk and high return in an ideal commercial environment.
- That four of South Africa’s eight rugby and true multi-purpose all-seater world-class match venues meet and exceed requirements to host the final
World Rugby, at the outset of the bid process, stated that critical fundamentals included:
- Clear government support
- A tournament fee guarantee payable by government
- Stadiums appropriate for a world-class rugby event available exclusively for the duration of the tournament
- A robust and credible tournament budget.
A review of the independent report released to the public showed that France provided none of these four elements.
The report also stated concerns that five of the nine French venue guarantees were still subject to city approval, and eight are not available exclusively and will host football during the Rugby World Cup, resulting in numerous challenges including undersized pitches at all match venues.
Security was also a concern because of recent terrorists attacks in Paris.
In the end it counted for nothing as World Rugby’s Technical View recommendation got ignored in the secret vote.
Rugby has got a lot to answer for ...