South African rugby fans at Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria couldn't hide their disappointment on Wednesday after it was announced that France will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/EPA

CAPE TOWN - “Athens se ma se @*#&!!”

The infamous Zapiro cartoon, which depicted a bergie blurting out a truly South African expletive, captured the feeling of every Capetonian after the Mother City lost out to the Greek capital in 1997 for the right to host the 2004 Olympics.

At 3pm this past Wednesday afternoon, after the announcement in London that France would host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, I felt similarly compelled to tweet “France se ma se @*#&!!”

I realise now it should rather have been “World Rugby se ma se @*#&!!” instead after the Technical Review committee’s recommendations were blatantly ignored.

Why was I so angry? Of course, I was livid with the injustices of SA being denied the opportunity to host the 2023 World Cup after scoring first or tied first in 22 of the 27 sub categories.

However, my real anger - or should I rather say disappointment - was for the children of SA who will not have the opportunity of looking forward to a major global sporting event.

I watched my 12-year-old son closely as the announcement was made. He sat on the couch, fingers crossed, eyes up to the heavens hoping praying that SA would win.

When the envelope was opened, and “France” was read out, he slumped into a heap of disappointment on the couch.

It was as if the wind was knocked out of him. Only after some consoling, and the promise that we would visit France in 2023, that he dusted himself off and made his way back to his room to continue studying for his exams.

I can only imagine there were millions of SA children around the country on Thursday who were similarly heartbroken.

I will be 41 years old in 2023 Insha-Allah and I have had the satisfaction of feeling the gees of a home Rugby World Cup (1995), Cricket World Cup (2003) and Fifa World Cup (2010), but it is the children of this beautiful country who need the motivation and inspiration that comes with the excitement of a major event on home soil.

It is a bleak picture, especially with the Fifa World Cup unlikely to return to SA any time soon, while cricket offers little form of consolation either.

There is no major ICC cricket tournament scheduled in Mzansi until 2022 when the Women’s World T20 comes to our shores. It may not be a blue-chip event like an ICC World Cup, but at this stage beggars can’t really be choosers.

And this what brings me to my point. There was grave disappointment last month when the T20 Global League was postponed until next year.

It was a tournament, even in its embryo stage, that had lit up faces - young and old - due to the prospect of watching the finest cricketers in the world on SA soil for six weeks.

As competitive as the T20 Challenge is with all the Proteas available, the sporting landscape needed a major makeover and the T20GL was going to be a game-changer.

It was not just on the playing field, but the benefits off the field were immense too, with South Africans having the opportunity to learn from international businessmen and women on how best to enhance the spectators’ experience.

Cricket SA are currently dealing with the repercussions of the postponement, especially their liability for the players’ payments, and will only know once the process is completed whether staging a tournament would be viable next year.

They do, though, have a duty to find a way to stage a world-class event in 2018. SA, and not just cricket, needs it!


Cape Times

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