CAPE TOWN – The SA Rugby Union’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup received a major boost on Thursday when Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi announced that government has approved the overall proposed package for the tournament.
Following a Cabinet meeting in Pretoria, government said in a statement that South Africa’s bid was packaged as an “economic bid” so that it would minimise demands on the fiscus.
The Cabinet approved a request for guarantees to the value of R2.7 billion, which was required from World Rugby, as a prerequisite in hosting the event.
“A successful bid by South Africa will consolidate our track record of successfully hosting mega-events. It will further position the country in the global mindset as a winning nation and a leading sport tourism destination – with tourism having been identified as a national economic priority for job creation and economic growth.”
Government also believes that hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup would promote social cohesion and nation-building. The only previous time that the tournament has been held in SA was in 1995, when the Springboks won the event by beating the All Blacks 15-12 in the final at Ellis Park.
Today we announce Governments support for the 2023 Rugby World Cup Bid. pic.twitter.com/pG98jBYL3C
The legacy of stadiums and lessons learnt from the 2010 Fifa World Cup soccer tournament, as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games saga, have also contributed to the decision to back the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.
“Government has also learnt from previous experiences – particularly the cost overruns and collusion which accompanied 2010. It was government’s refusal to sign an open-ended blank cheque that led to South Africa withdrawing its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“An open-ended 2022 Commonwealth bid could not be justified in the present economic circumstances. That is why the request for Cabinet approval to bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup was kept and packaged as an economic bid which would minimise demands on the fiscus, whilst it (would) stimulate economic activity, employment and empowerment.”
France and Ireland are the two other bidding countries, and a final decision on the 2023 Rugby World Cup hosts will be made on November 15 this year. SA Rugby thanked government for their support.
“We could not take this journey alone and we’re delighted to take hands with government as we bid to bring the Rugby World Cup back to South Africa for the first time since 1995,” said CEO Jurie Roux.
“They have been supportive of the bid for every step of the process, but this is a big moment to share a stand with government on our shared vision. We’re very grateful to Mr Nxesi, the Director General, his department and the entire government.
“It would be a marvellous, inspirational nation-building moment to recapture some of the excitement of 1995, but it would also have enormous practical benefits for our country.”
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander added: “We believe our bid is technically the strongest of the three, with our world-class venues and training facilities, tourism infrastructure and wonderful climate.
“We will maximise the commercial benefit for the World Rugby with a low-cost, high-return event in a country that has the infrastructure and major event experience to turn on a colossal event with 2.9 million match tickets available for the showpiece.”