LONDON – Two former World Cup-winning Springbok captains, Francois Pienaar and John Smit, were vividly confident that the South African delegation made a “good bid” to host the 2023 showpiece.
“Good bid mate,” chuckled Smit to Pienaar as they exited the press conference room where they were part of the South African delegates addressing international media at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London yesterday.
“Yes! Oh, that was a very good bid. You actually did well,” replied Pienaar, as if he was to pat Smit on his shoulder for leading out a good scrum once again.
Pienaar led the Springboks when they first hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995 on home soil.
Smit, a Springbok centenarian, led the Green and Gold when they repeated the victory feat in France in 2007.
It is the second time in two years that South Africa is bidding for a big sporting event, and the last time leaves a bad taste. The last bid South Africa made was for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which was to be hosted in Durban.
Pienaar and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who led the South African delegation in Kensington, were however very firm in assuring that the same will not happen when it comes to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“No, no, because the guarantees are irrevocable guarantees. The stadiums are built. There are no new facilities that need to be brought into play. We only need the ones that we have, to keep them, and make sure they are digitally advanced for 2023 when the rugby comes to South Africa,” stated Pienaar.
Ramaphosa added: “The Commonwealth bid was really sort of looking for an open-ended guarantee from government. This bid is different because it’s a clear, fixed amount that government was asked to guarantee.
“We were then able to say this amount, we can guarantee. Durban was different – had they come with a clear, focused guarantee, government would have responded more positively.”
Other countries bidding for the 2023 showpiece are France and Ireland.
World Rugby will announce the preferred candidate, which will be determined by an independent technical assessment, on Tuesday, October 31.
The final decision will be taken by the World Rugby Council on Wednesday, November 15, also in London.
Isolezwe, IOL Sport