Fourie du Preez during the Rugby World Cup 2015. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Fourie du Preez during the Rugby World Cup 2015. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

SA Rugby will continue with its bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023 with the full endorsement of the government.

Sport and Recreation Minister Thulas Nxesi rescinded a ban on hosting mega-events imposed on rugby last April by his predecessor, Fikile Mbalula.

Besides rugby, cricket and netball are also off the hook, but not athletics.

Nxesi made the decision based on the revision of a report from the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on transformation in sport.

The original EPG reports‚ based on its findings in the years 2014-15‚ said rugby had failed on two of 13 barometers set out.

After a 12-month review period‚ rugby, cricket and netball have now met the criteria laid out by the EPG.

Nxesi threw the government’s full formal backing behind the Rugby World Cup bid‚ which was severely hamstrung by Mbalula’s dictate.

He congratulated the three sporting codes on their improved scores.

"Their right to bid for and host major sporting events‚ which was revoked before‚ is hereby immediately reinstated.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

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.

"We can now put the finishing touches to what we believe will be an outstanding bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup."

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 various sports from school level to elite level, both on and off the field, under sections such as demographics‚ performance‚ governance and access.

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

Cricket SA has credited its redesigned systems for the lifting of the ban against it bidding to host major events.

Cricket SA can now bid to host the World Cup and the Champions Trophy after 2023, when the already assigned tournaments on the current list will be completed.

"This is a reflection on the good work that is being done by many people at the various levels of our talent identification and development pipeline‚" Cricket SA president Chris Nenzani said.

Cricket SA has in recent years improved and intensified the methods used to identify and nurture young players, with the focus on transformation.

But Nenzani warned against thinking the job was done. Much still needed to be done to make cricket a truly national sport and accessible to all, he said.

TMG Digital

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