South Africa 'disappointed' but still bidding for RWC

South Africa are still in the race to host the Rugby World Cup in either 2015 or 2019 despite failing to win the recommendation of the organising committee, bid organisers insisted on Wednesday.

Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) on Tuesday announced it was recommending England to the IRB Council to host Rugby World Cup 2015 and Japan to stage the tournament in 2019, at the expense of South Africa and fellow bidders Italy.

The IRB Council will meet in Dublin on July 28 to finalise the hosting nations.

South Africa, which hosted and won RWC 1995 and who were recrowned world champions in 2007 in France, were seen as strong candidates for re-hosting one of the RWCs up for tender.

There has been a massive outlay on infrastructure and stadiums ahead of the 2010 football World Cup it will host, and the country has a proven track record of successfully hosting sports events, notably the recently-concluded football Confederations Cup and the rescheduled IPL cricket tournament.

“We are very disappointed not to have won the board’s recommendation but we have not given up,” said Mark Alexander, deputy president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and chairman of the bid committee.

“We met and frequently exceeded every criteria of the tender document and we will now have to examine the findings of the report presented by RWCL to the board.

“Our congratulations go to the recommended bidders—they have been working for their union and their nations as we have—but we will be looking for some clarifications on the recommendations from the IRB.”

The Saru bid team led by Alexander and former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis presented South Africa’s case to the RWCL board and council members in mid-May.

The South African government fully backed the Saru bid and underwrote the minimum tournament guarantee for ticket sales.

“The IRB asked for a minimum guarantee and we were the only nation to offer in excess of that,” said Alexander.

The government’s “support would ensure that a Rugby World Cup in South Arica would be a financial success to aid in the growing of the game globally”, he said.

“The infrastructure and facilities that are being put in place for the Fifa 2010 World Cup would provide rugby with an outstanding stage on which to showcase the game.

“As well as our traditional rugby facilities, we will have amazing new and iconic stadiums in which players, spectators and media will be able to celebrate the game as rugby probably never has had the opportunity before.”

RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset said on Tuesday that all the tenders had been of a “very high standard” with each union demonstrating that they could host an “excellent” World Cup.

“Both Italy and South Africa submitted comprehensive tenders with very strong government support and would be capable of hosting outstanding Rugby World Cup tournaments now or in the future,” acknowledged Lapasset.

“However, there could only be two recommended unions and after detailed review, the RWCL board decided that England and Japan would provide the best balanced combination of hosts for the continued worldwide development of the game.”

England as host would offer a “commercially strong” opportunity while Japan “would provide a gateway to the further development and expansion of the game in Asia, reaching out to new young fans and providing a superb spectacle for the sport”, the Frenchman said.—AFP

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