Springbok captain John Smit, with the trophy, and teammates celebrate victory over England in the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup at the Stade de France in St Denis. In front is then-president Thabo Mbeki. Photo: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images

CAPE TOWN – South Africa will be transformed into a place of rugby worship that will give a generation of professional players, supporters and rugby stakeholders something that only the All Blacks of 1996 and the British & Irish Lions of 1997 and 2009 have known – a six-week rugby tour of South Africa.

Player welfare will be at the heart of the tournament, and SA Rugby will ensure an exceptional player experience to maximise peak player performance.

The tournament schedule and team base set-up has been designed specific to player welfare.

All training venue options identified are a maximum of 17 minutes (10.8km) travel time from the teams’ accommodation. All training venue facilities are grouped in one location (outdoor training field, swimming pool, gymnasium, and indoor training facility).

All the team hotels selected are premium hotels with experience in hosting international sports teams, and will be less than 30 minutes from the match venues.

Players can expect:

* First-class team rooms in all hotels;

* Minimised team travel between host cities;

* No hotel checkout for matches away from the host city team bases during the pool stages;

* Highly trained local liaison officers with international rugby experience will work in their home cities, which they know well.

The premium hotels will have experience in hosting international sports teams, and considerations include the age of hotel, room size, team facilities, proximity to training and match venues, and nearby amenities.

The training venues all will have been used to host international sports teams, with the necessary proximity to team hotels, quality of facilities and training fields, and all required facilities in one location, including outdoor training field, swimming pool, gymnasium, and indoor training facility.

A filtered list of candidate hotels and training facilities has been workshopped with the Springboks’ national team management, who have practical experience of team requirements for international Test matches and Rugby World Cups across numerous locations around the world.

All teams will be accommodated in four- and five-star accommodation, the standard of which exceeds the requirements for top-tier sports events.

Facilities:

* Free high-speed Wi-Fi;

* 22-37 square metre rooms;

* Daily laundry service using a dedicated external service provider with the laundry bag approach implemented for RWC 2015 (exceeds RWCL minimum requirements);

* 24-hour security, with restricted access to all team areas;

* Private dining areas budgeted for, with customised meal plans for each team, delivered by chefs experienced in international sports team dietary requirements;

* Provision of all team rooms required, with additional budget to customise these areas as directed by each team’s requirements.

The match schedule also minimises accommodation changes and travel fatigue.

Eight match venues in seven host cities will enable travellers to enjoy much of what South Africa has to offer.

In the Pool stage, eight teams will remain at their team base, playing all pool matches at “home”, with the remaining 12 teams travelling “away” for only a single match.

While travelling locally, teams will not need to officially check out of their hotels; they will simply vacate the room, with minimal luggage.

During the quarter-finals, six teams will relocate to, and two will remain in, Cape Town and Durban.

In the semi-finals and final matches, all four teams will relocate to Joburg for the last fortnight of the tournament.

* Mark Keohane is an award-winning rugby writer and former Springbok communications manager. Follow him on www.keo.co.za and www.twitter.com/mark_keohane

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