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SA Rugby confident about World Cup bid

SA Rugby have pushed ahead with their bid application for the event they famously hosted in 1995.

FILE: Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - SA Rugby President Mark Alexander is confident government will back their 2023 World Cup bid after new Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi paid the governing body a visit this week.

SA Rugby has pushed ahead with their bid application for the event they famously hosted in 1995.

However, they have no formal confirmation of support from government after Nxesi’s predecessor Fikile Mbalula revoked their right to host and bid for major international tournaments in South Africa, this due to the SA Rugby not meeting their own transformation targets.

This basis of Mbalula’s action was the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Sports Transformation which recommended the punishment last year, after its findings established rugby as well as cricket, netball and athletics were not hitting their transformation targets.

A new EPG report is set to be released very soon according to Nxesi who was positive himself about the bid.

For South Africa’s bid to continue, SA Rugby needs government to underwrite the costs associated with organising rugby’s premier tournament.

Alexander hinted that the minister might well know that SA Rugby will meet their targets once the EPG Report is released.

“I think he knows something but let’s wait until he brings it (EPG) out.”

Alexander continued saying that the EPG report was the last remaining piece of the bidding puzzle for SA Rugby.

“There was always a thing, you have meet your EPG commitments so that’s the box that ticks everything and then all the other documents will flow.”

South Africa are in competition with Ireland and France for the right to host the rugby showpiece and have a 1 June deadline to handover the necessary documents.

Alexander is confident the EPG Report will be better for them this year since SA Rugby have implemented a new system which helps them track their transformation commitments regularly.

“I’m confident because we have a system called Footprint where you track it (transformation). Before you would think it’s right but now we check on a weekly basis and can see from the barometer where we are.”

The president says the potential revenue stemming from the World Cup will leave government optimistic about the bid as well as helping other codes in terms of funding.

“The numbers really look good, we are saying out of the profits we will take 50% and 50% of that (of profits) will be given to the government for the other codes of sport that don’t enjoy sponsorship. I’m not talking about giving it to cricket or soccer, everybody must benefit from the Rugby World Cup’s profits.”

Alexander who was in charge of the Commonwealth bid says the World Cup bid is a better and more viable option for government to support.

“The Durban one (bid) was slightly different because you are building a village and that’s a big capital expense. You are talking about 27 other codes of sport, which is major pressure on the system. The profits you can generate from this (Rugby World Cup) is far different from the Durban bid. The Durban bid was a big capital build, this is not such a big capital build - we will be using existing stadia. If we were to be hosting the bid in 2027, I think we will face problems because there will be major upgrades to stadia.”