JOHANNESBURG – The fate of Rugby World Cup 2023 now lies in the hands of the rugby federations around the world, and if they have any integrity, they will vote for the preferred bidder, South Africa.
Also, World Rugby have a duty to ensure the voting process is free and fair after they proposed that South Africa host the tournament in six years’ time.
The two “losers” of the bid when the announcement was made by World Rugby last week, France and Ireland, are now doing everything in their power to discredit the South African bid, with France’s rugby chief Bernard Laporte going so far as to say the report giving South Africa the thumbs-up is “nonsense”.
Laporte has basically rubbished the evaluation, which lasted 15 months.
Several companies were involved in the evaluation process, which looked at 18 different functional areas and concluded South Africa’s bid was best in several key areas, including quality and safety of stadiums and financial assurances.
So, come on Mr Laporte, accept the report and its findings and allow the federations to vote the way they want to, and if that means South Africa get the right to host the 2023 tournament, so be it.
After all, the last time South Africa hosted the world showpiece was 22 years ago, and what a success that was, while your country, France, hosted it 10 years ago.
Both countries have great facilities and accommodation establishments, but I’d hazard a guess and say this country’s stadiums are a notch above all the others.
Also, aren’t many of the stadiums in France a little on the small side? The same can be said of the stadiums in Ireland.
South Africa will put on a great World Cup, period. In fact, this country’s track record is impeccable when it comes to hosting major tournaments.
The board of World Rugby have made their recommendation; now it is in the hands of the federations, and while they can tell you to your face they will vote for you – as some have done with regards to the South African bid – because it’s a secret ballot next Wednesday, nothing should be taken for granted.
The winner will be the country that receives the majority of the 39 votes.
There’s going to be a fair amount of mud-slinging and slandering in the days until next Wednesday, that is a given.
One can only hope that those with the power now to decide where the World Cup heads to in six years’ time do the honourable thing and vote for the bid that ticked all the right boxes.
It’s about integrity now... and what happens next week will show who has it, and who doesn’t.