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SA rugby responds to Mbalula’s red card 'threat'

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux says they were taken completely by surprise.

FILE: Chief Executive Officer of the South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux addressing a press conference to announce Cape Town will host the South African leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series for the next four years in Cape Town on 20 March, 2015.

CAPE TOWN - SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux says they will actively seek to engage Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula around a decision to revoke bidding rights for future international tournaments as a result of not meeting transformation targets.

South Africa is set to bid to host the 2023 rugby World Cup, but today's proclamation from Mbalula, also affecting cricket, netball and athletics, seemingly now puts those hopes in jeopardy.

Roux says they were taken completely by surprise.

"The minister's decision on the ban on the 2023 World Cup does pose a different set of issues for us but we will seek further clarification with that as the bid only closes at the end of 2017 and I'm sure we'll be in the clear by then."

Roux said they understand and support the minister's urgency in addressing the issue of transformation.

"There is no question that we have more work to do and we could be moving faster, but our sport has undergone a major overhaul in how we do business and how we measure ourselves in the past two or three years and we have definitely made great progress. Our barometer for 2015 shows that we have achieved our target in 11 out of 13 dimensions as agreed with government."

The CEO noted that they have made further progress on and off the field in 2016 to date and over the coming months our commitment to transformation will become even more evident.

Roux confirmed that the minister's announcement did not relate to existing international events such as Vodacom Super Rugby, the Springboks' Castle Lager Incoming Test Series or Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test programme or the HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

He said that SA Rugby planned to engage the minister on the organisation's hopes of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup to fully understand the implications.

The bidding process is due to start next month but will not conclude until next year, by which time SA Rugby hopes to have had the right to host reinstated.

While Athletics South Africa has welcomed the push for greater transformation in South Africa, President Aleck Skosana has requested a meeting with the ministry later this week to provide more clarity.

Meanwhile, AfriForum says that they will request legal advice as they believe international sports regulations expressly forbid any form of political interference.

To read Mbalula's full report On Sport Transformation, click here.

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