The South African government have approved a €170m guarantee to strengthen the country’s chances of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi made the announcement at a meeting in Pretoria yesterday, ensuring the bid can provide the tournament fee required by World Rugby from any potential host.
The African statement comes just days after the French bid announced €390m in government and private backing, a sum that made their bid “the most attractive and secure economic offer,” according to France 2023 bid director Claude Atcher.
But the Springbok bid was not derailed by the French show of financial muscle, and after announcing the government backing, they revealed their intention to sell 2.9m tickets for the tournament.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: “It would be a marvellous, inspirational nation-building moment to recapture some of the excitement of 1995, but it would also have enormous practical benefits for our country.”
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander believes the announcement puts them in the driving seat ahead of the November 15 decision. “We believe our bid is technically the strongest of the three, with our world-class venues and training facilities, tourism infrastructure and wonderful climate,” Alexander said.
“We will maximise the commercial benefit for the World Rugby with a low-cost, high-return event in a country that has the infrastructure and major event experience to turn on a colossal event.”
All three bidders will make a presentation to the World Rugby council in London on September 24, with a public recommendation made by WR at the end of October and a vote taken on November 15.
Ireland’s £120m tournament fee has been guaranteed by the Government and the Northern Ireland executive.
Meanwhile, Connacht have replaced departed out-half Marnitz Boshoff with former Australia U20 star Andrew Deegan from Super Rugby side the Waratahs. The South African, who played just four times for Connacht after being injured on his second appearance last season, was released from his contract a year early on compassionate grounds, after the death of his father earlier this year.
“Andrew is a very highly-rated young player who has already gained a lot of experience in Australia,” said Connacht assistant coach Nigel Carolan.
Another Australian touched down on Irish soil this week, with Scott Fardy, Leinster’s big summer signing, joining pre-season training for the first time yesterday, after making the move from Super Rugby side Brumbies. “Part of the reason I wanted to come here was to play European rugby, in places like the RDS,” he said, “packed houses and lots of pressure and all that stuff. That’s what rugby’s about.”
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