Optimism that World Cup is ours
THE champagne has been on ice for two weeks, and today South Africans want the corks to explode in the air at 3pm when the host nation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup is announced.
And Chester Williams, one of the darlings of the historic 1995 triumph of the Springboks, says a return of the World Cup to South Africa is long overdue.
In 1995, the Springboks won the Webb Ellis Cup against a backdrop of poignant nation-building for the newly democratic Rainbow Nation.
Williams, the Springbok wing on that historic day in June 1995, said: “This country has shown it 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,” he said.
“My abiding memory of the ’95 final was pausing at the final whistle and looking around me (at Ellis Park), and taking in the multi-cultural celebrations. It was magical.”
It is unprecedented in Rugby World Cup history for the member nations of World Rugby (formerly the IRB) to overturn the recommendation of the body that will in fact run the quadrennial event.
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 competitors Ireland and France.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will head a high-powered delegation in London that includes Sport and Recreation Minister Thulas Nxesi, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and chief executive officer Jurie Roux.
France and Ireland were disappointed to say the least after South Africa won the vitally important recommendation.
It is not impossible that South Africa loses out today, but if that was to be the case, it would plunge the rugby world into crisis.
Mark Andrews, the No 8 in the 1995 final, says a positive outcome for South Africa today would give the country a shot in the arm. – Mike Greenaway