Rugby Cup crunch day for SA

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE GREEN­AWAY

THE cham­pagne has been on ice for two weeks and to­day South Africans want the corks to ex­plode at 3pm when the host na­tion for the 2023 Rugby World Cup is an­nounced.

Ch­ester Wil­liams, one of the dar­lings of the his­toric 1995 tri­umph of the Boks, says a re­turn of the Cup to South Africa is long over­due.

In 1995, South Africa won the Webb El­lis Cup against a back­drop of poignant na­tion-build­ing for the fledg­ling Rain­bow Na­tion.

Wil­liams, the Bok wing on that his­toric day in June 1995, said: “This coun­try has shown that is more than equipped to host in­ter­na­tional events. We did it in 1995 and again in 2010 (with the Soc­cer World Cup). We have the sta­di­ums and, im­por­tantly, we have a sports-mad cul­ture that will get be­hind the World Cup.”

In Septem­ber, af­ter an ex­haus­tive ten­der­ing, clar­i­fi­ca­tion and eval­u­a­tion process, the Rugby World Cup com­mit­tee an­nounced that the South African bid was com­mer­cially and tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior to that of its ri­vals Ire­land and France.

Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa will head a high-pow­ered del­e­ga­tion in Lon­don again with Sport and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Thu­las Nx­esi, SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der and chief ex­ec­u­tive Jurie Roux.

France and Ire­land were dis­ap­pointed af­ter South Africa won the vi­tally im­por­tant rec­om­men­da­tion and both have sub­se­quently heav­ily crit­i­cised the SA bid while cham­pi­oning their own to in­flu­ence to­day’s vot­ers.

It’s not im­pos­si­ble for South Africa to lose to­day but should the un­think­able hap­pen, it would plunge the rugby world into cri­sis.

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