SA THE RUGBY DES­TI­NA­TION OF CHOICE

World class sta­di­ums in pre­mier cities, tourist at­trac­tions and costs the RWC lures

Saturday Star - - INSIGHT -

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup bid plat­form is strength­ened be­cause of eight su­per sta­dia in seven cities, and while the rugby lead­er­ship right­fully can boast about the qual­ity of the al­ready op­er­a­tional and func­tional sta­dia, it’s the at­trac­tion of the cities that are home to th­ese sta­dia that could de­ter­mine which way the coun­cil mem­bers vote.

The lead­er­ship of all three bid­ding teams (South Africa, France and Ire­land) will get an op­por­tu­nity to present to World Rugby’s coun­cil in Lon­don on September 25.

The coun­cil will then vote to de­ter­mine the win­ning bid on Novem­ber 15, but in the in­terim, in Oc­to­ber, World Rugby’s ex­ec­u­tive will also re­ceive the eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sions re­port and in­de­pen­dent ser­vice provider re­ports, as per the score­card.

It would gen­er­ally be ac­cepted that the coun­cil vote would be con­sis­tent with the in­de­pen­dent rec­om­men­da­tion, but it’s no guar­an­tee that the coun­cil mem­bers share the view of those in­de­pen­dents when it comes to who gets ranked one, two and three.

The in­de­pen­dents, who are as­sess­ing each bid, may con­clude that very lit­tle sep­a­rates the three in an over­all per­cent­age, which then high­lights the im­por­tance of how the sell­ing job gets done (to the coun­cil mem­bers) by each coun­try’s bid­ding teams.

What makes South Africa’s sell to the coun­cil that much eas­ier, out­side of an ex­tremely com­pelling com­mer­cial and tech­ni­cal bid, is the city and pro­vin­cial make-up of the coun­try.

The Western Cape is renowned as one of the world’s top tourist des­ti­na­tions, while South Africa’s in­ter na­tional ap­peal in­cludes wildlife and spec­tac­u­lar beaches and coast­lines.

There’s more to host­ing a World Cup than the match-day oc­ca­sion and it’s here where South Africa has an ad­van­tage in the di­ver­sity of the of­fer­ing, from Ta­ble Moun­tain to the Kruger Na­tional Park.

“We do be­lieve we have answered all the rugby-re­lated ques­tions,” says SA Rugby Union (Saru) pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der.

“Our bid is very strong, but so is the lure of vis­it­ing South Africa for the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s very unique.”

South Africa’s host cities’ de­ci­sion mak­ers, like the gov­ern­ment (pro­vin­cial and na­tional) had to agree that there was value in host­ing a Rugby World Cup.

There had to be ben­e­fit beyond rugby’s needs as a sport. It had to make eco­nomic sense, and it does.

Port El­iz­a­beth, as just one ex­am­ple, de­tailed the fi­nan­cial gains of host­ing a Springbok Test match.

Nel­son Man­dela Bay Busi­ness Cham­ber act­ing CEO Prince Ma­tonsi es­ti­mated there would be in ex­cess of R155 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion to the re­gion’s GDP, based on hav­ing the Boks in Port El­iz­a­beth for one week dur­ing this year’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Imag­ine the com­mer­cial re­tur n when sev­eral in­ter­na­tional teams are based in the re­gion for a month dur­ing a World Cup.

Ma­tonsi is among the con­verted as to the ben­e­fits of in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events in his re­gion.

“It ben­e­fits the dif­fer­ent busi­nesses that are in­volved, fil­ters through the rest of the econ­omy and also gives an in­jec­tion into main­te­nance of the (Nel­son Man­dela Bay) sta­dium, which is cru­cial to Port El­iz­a­beth be­ing a world-class sport­ing des­ti­na­tion.”

Saru com­mer­cial man­ager Tsholo Khubeka says the re­sponse from the pro­posed host cities’ re­spec­tive lead­er­ships has made South Africa’s bid even more com­pelling.

“We’ve said from the out­set that this is a bid about South Africa and South Africans, of which rugby is the ve­hi­cle.

“It has to have the sup­port of gov­ern­ment and it has to have the buy-in from those host city rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“We’re for tu­nate and blessed to be able to have the (city) lo­ca­tions we have in terms of our bid.

“Our sta­dia of­fer­ing is with­out com­par­i­son and so too is the tourist as­pect of what you can do when vis­it­ing each of the host cities.”

South Africa’s bid also fo­cuses on the World Bank’s Pur­chas­ing Price Par­ity data, which shows that vis­i­tors to the 2023 World Cup can ex­pe­ri­ence three weeks in South Africa for what it would cost for one week in ei­ther France or Ire­land.

South Africa is renowned for its rugby, but the suc­cess of host­ing the Rugby World Cup, like the bid it­self, is about what sup­ports the rugby of­fer­ing.

And when it comes to tourism in South Africa, it’s pretty much got ev­ery­thing and a low cost with no com­pro­mise to qual­ity.

IDYL­LIC: Cape Town Sta­dium with the ma­jes­tic Ta­ble Moun­tain in the back­ground.

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