SA Rugby warns escalating stadium war can harm bid
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.