The game on trial

Rugby World body must give the Rugby World Cup to South Africa to pre­serve cred­i­bil­ity

The Times (South Africa) - - Sport - By CRAIG RAY

● It has to be South Africa.

If ei­ther France or Ire­land are today named as hosts of Rugby World Cup 2023, it will be a blow to the in­tegrity of the se­lec­tion process and, more broadly, rugby gover­nance.

The rec­ti­tude of rugby’s lead­er­ship will be un­der­mined if any name other than South Africa emerges from an en­ve­lope in London. The an­nounce­ment is ex­pected at 3.15pm. If South Africa — the pre­ferred can­di­date based on the rec­om­men­da­tion by an in­de­pen­dent panel of ex­perts af­ter an ex­haus­tive anal­y­sis of the bids — does not win‚ find­ing bid­ders in fu­ture might be dif­fi­cult.

The Olympics and Foot­ball World Cup have been marred by ac­cu­sa­tions of ne­far­i­ous bid­ding pro­cesses and rugby has en­dured sim­i­lar cor­ri­dor as­ser­tions.

By mak­ing the bids trans­par­ent and the find­ings of the eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee pub­lic‚ World Rugby has chal­lenged its mem­ber­ship Coun­cil to vote based purely on tech­ni­cal merit.

The po­ten­tial cost of putting on a World Cup is huge‚ as are the ben­e­fits.

Be­cause of the com­plex na­ture of pre­sent­ing the third-big­gest global sport­ing event‚ World Rugby has at­tempted to move away from shad­owy deals and last-minute prom­ises.

It is a se­cret bal­lot and South Africa has been hurt in these sit­u­a­tions be­fore — when they bid for both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup‚ the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 Foot­ball World Cup.

France and Ire­land have pre­sented strong bids‚ which the eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee ac­knowl­edged. But it has rec­om­mended that votes go to South Africa‚ which scored 79% to France’s 76% and Ire­land’s 73%.

If the process were com­pletely hon­est‚ South Africa should win all 39 avail­able votes be­cause ev­ery coun­cil mem­ber agreed to the process and to use the out­come of the eval­u­a­tion process to guide its vote.

But that sce­nario is un­likely‚ which im­me­di­ately casts doubt over the en­tire bid­ding process yet again.

SA‚ France and Ire­land can­not vote and all that SA knows is that they are guar­an­teed nine votes from their Sanzaar part­ners.

In­di­ca­tions out of Bri­tain are that the Rugby Foot­ball Union (RFU) are set to vote against SA and they might take Wales with them.

“If the process were com­pletely hon­est‚ SA should win all 39 avail­able votes”

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