A World Rugby delegation arrived in South Africa on Monday to begin two days of meetings with stakeholders involved with South Africa’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2023 bid.
SA Rugby met World Rugby’s “applicant submission” deadline on September 1 last year despite‚ at the time‚ not formally having national government’s backing to host the event.
France and Ireland have also submitted bids to host the 2023 event.
Last April Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula revoked rugby’s privilege of “hosting and bidding for major and mega international tournaments in South Africa” as a “consequence of not meeting their own set transformation targets.”
Three other sporting codes were similarly penalised.
SA Rugby needs government to underwrite the associated costs of putting on the global showpiece seven years from now‚ not least of which is World Rugby’s ‘fee’ in the region of R2bn.
As of Monday‚ SA Rugby still didn’t have the formal backing of government to continue with the bid process.
An Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Sports Transformation‚ chaired by Dr Willie Basson‚ which recommended the sanction in April 2016 based on its findings over the course of the previous year‚ has completed a review of the situation over the past 12 months.
Basson did not want to pre-empt the minister’s final decision but did say that the “outcome of the process has led to significant improvements.”
According to Basson the EPG has delivered its new report to Mbalula and he now has to review the data.
There is a sense that the report contains positive news for rugby but neither Basson nor SA Rugby would comment until the minister makes the outcome public.
In the meantime the RWC 2023 delegation‚ led by Alan Gilpin‚ will meet with SA Rugby officials in Cape Town on Tuesday and are scheduled to meet with Minister Mbalula in Johannesburg on Wednesday.