SA Rugby warns es­ca­lat­ing sta­dium war can harm bid

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - LUNGANI ZUNGU AND MINENHLE MKHIZE

AS SOUTH Africa reels from the na­tional soc­cer team’s fail­ure to qual­ify for the 2018 World Cup, the furore over the host­ing of the Rugby World Cup has es­ca­lated even be­fore the coun­try to host the tour­na­ment has been an­nounced.

Some rugby unions are up in arms over the de­ci­sion to take the 2023 Rugby World Cup matches away from his­toric rugby sta­di­ums to venues built and used for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“It’s crazy idea,” said the Sharks chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Te­ich­mann, adding that the calls were made with­out proper due dili­gence and were bound to have reper­cus­sions for the rugby fra­ter­nity. “Im­pli­ca­tions of the move should have been first con­sid­ered be­fore ma­jor de­ci­sions were im­ple­mented,” cau­tioned Te­ich­mann.

But SA Rugby spokeper­son Andy Colquhoun hit back at Te­ich­mann say­ing he was an “ag­grieved CEO” com­plain­ing about one of eight venues that had been ear­marked for the pro­posed 2023 World Cup.

Colquhoun said Te­ich­mann’s views gave “more am­mu­ni­tion to Ire­land or France”, the other coun­tries vy­ing for the right to host rugby’s show­piece event.

On Wed­nes­day, the World Rugby Coun­cil was ex­pected to an­nounce the 2023 World Cup Rugby host coun­try.

Colquhoun said the last thing the coun­try needed as it waited for the an­nounce­ment were peo­ple bent on crit­i­cis­ing the bid com­mit­tee over the de­ci­sion it took dur­ing the bid process. Part of this was the use of 2010 Fifa World Cup sta­di­ums for rugby games dur­ing the 2023 tour­na­ment.

Te­ich­mann said that from the out­set, they, as rugby ad­min­is­tra­tors, had al­ways been open to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Like Te­ich­mann, Brian van Zyl, for­mer Sharks chief ex­ec­u­tive, was also against the de­ci­sion to take rugby matches to tra­di­tional soc­cer sta­di­ums.

He said last week that it was a “no-brainer”.

Win­ning the bid would not only come with en­ter­tain­ment for rugby fans but also an es­ti­mated R27 bil­lion boost for the coun­try.

Rugby World Cup Lim­ited, the World Rugby Coun­cil’s or­gan­is­ing body, rec­om­mended South Africa as their choice to host the tour­na­ment.

In spite of de­trac­tors, Colquhoun said the 2010 Fifa World Cup soc­cer sta­di­ums met the high stan­dards pre­scribed by the World Rugby Union, which over­saw the bids.

Mean­while, for­mer Bafana Bafana and Leeds United cap­tain, Lu­cas Radebe, has joined the calls for Stu­art Bax­ter to be given an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue as na­tional coach.

Bafana failed to qual­ify on Fri­day for the World Cup in Rus­sia next year, suc­cumb­ing to Sene­gal at the Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium in Polok­wane.

“It was a com­bined de­ci­sion. It is not a one per­son who made the de­ci­sion,” said Radebe, who led the coun­try in France in 1998 and in Ja­pan and Korea in 2002.

“There’s a 2022 vi­sion, the rea­son why we chose Bax­ter. Give him a chance.”

It’s third time in a row that Bafana failed to qual­ify for the World Cup. The na­tional side com­peted as hosts in 2010.

“What mat­ters is progress, sus­tain­abil­ity and con­sis­tency. In or­der to be con­sis­tent, you re­struc­ture,” said Radebe.

He added the lack of SA play­ers com­pet­ing in top Euro­pean leagues was among the rea­sons for the rapid de­cline of the na­tional side.

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