SA Rugby is set officially to have its ban on bidding for the right to host mega-events rescinded on Tuesday when a new report from the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on sports transformation gives them a pass mark.
The lifting of the sanction will allow national government to formally back SA Rugby’s bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023.
SA Rugby fell foul of two of 13 barometers set by the EPG in 2014-15 when their original assessment was done.
It was a situation SA Rugby publicly took on the chin but privately challenged with then sport minister Fikile Mbalula and a member of the EPG, Dr Willie Basson.
Regardless‚ Mbalula suspended SA Rugby’s right to host mega-events last April‚ at precisely the time the body was bidding to host RWC 2023.
Sources have confirmed to Business Day that SA Rugby has met all targets laid out by the EPG and will have the suspension lifted.
Basson himself, when questioned about the EPG’s updated findings, hinted strongly that SA Rugby "would receive good news".
A key indicator that SA Rugby had to meet was the number of black players and coaches at national level. That target has been reached.
In the months that followed the original ban SA Rugby continued with its bid application‚ meeting all of World Rugby’s deadlines.
Until the EPG’s latest report is made public and confirms that SA Rugby has met all 13 barometers‚ Sport Minister Thulas Nxesi will not confirm the bid’s support from the government.
But he did say that the legacy of hosting the 2010 football World Cup had been positive for SA and that hosting another RWC would be beneficial.
"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‚" Nxesi said.
"The legacy of that tournament‚ among black and white‚ is very important. A big part of that legacy is the stadia that were built‚ which means we have the necessary infrastructure in place 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]."
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander was optimistic the EPG’s report contained good news. "I’m positive about what will come with the EPG report review because we are on track‚" he said.