New Sports Minister lifts SA Rugby's hosting ban

Tue, 09 May 2017 09:24

NEWS: New Sports Minister Thembelani 'Thulas' Nxesi has reinstated SA Rugby's rights to host international events with immediate effect.

The news was confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday after the review of the the 2015/16 Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Report on Transformation in Pretoria.

In April 2016, Nxesi's predecessor, Fikile Mbalula, banned South African Rugby Union - along with cricket, athletics and netball - from hosting all major or mega international tournaments after failing to meet transformation targets

The ban prevented SARU from bidding to host the 2023 XV-a-side World Cup. However, SA Rugby continued with their bid despite the absence of government's support.

However, Nxesi said that rugby had met the targets set out in the Transformation Charter.

"I would like to congratulate rugby, cricket and netball on their improved scores, you were clearly willing to walk the extra mile.

"Their right to bid for and host major sporting events, which was revoked before, is hereby immediately reinstated.

"But we would like to re-emphasise our expectations for sporting federations to take charge and provide leadership at school and club levels."

Last week Nxesi visited SARU headquarters and said hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 would leave a lasting legacy. 

"If I were to draw on my experiences from the Soccer World Cup in 2010, in terms of nation building, we saw both black and white in the stands supporting Bafana Bafana and enjoying the football," said Nxesi
 
"The legacy of that tournament, amongst black and white, is very important. A big part of that legacy is the stadia which were built, which means that we have the necessary infrastructure in place already and we don’t have to start from scratch.
 
"It means the hosting costs would be seriously reduced and I believe that the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 can also leave a huge legacy and make a big impact, just like soccer did (in 2010). But it really depends on how the government is going to look at it."

After the news broke, SA Rugby confirmed that it was on track to submit a compelling bid to bring a vibrant, profitable and spectacular  World Cup to South Africa in 2023.
 
Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, said from a World Rugby meeting in Tokyo: "This is great news and a tribute to the work that the sport has been doing in recent years to stay in tune and relevant to modern South Africa.
 
"We can now put the finishing touches to what we believe will be an outstanding bid to host the 2023 World Cup.
 
"We have kept the ministry up to speed with our thinking and state of preparation throughout the suspension and continue to enjoy an excellent relationship with our sports leaders."
 
The EPG Report measures South African sports federations on a number of national imperatives to provide greater access and opportunity to sport for all.

The report examines sports from school level to elite level – on and off the field – under demographics, performance, governance, access, preferential procurement and employment equity.

Ireland and France are also bidding to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup tournament. The winning bidder will be named by World Rugby on 15 November.