Mark Alexander.   Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Mark Alexander. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Dublin — Rugby will be tarnished forever should SA fail to secure hosting rights for the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) due to last-minute horse trading.

That was the considered opinion of SA Rugby president Mark Alexander in Dublin on Sunday in an increasingly acrid atmosphere as World Rugby prepares itself to unveil the hosts for the 2023 showpiece in London on Wednesday.

SA is in pole position after being declared World Rugby’s preferred host country following an exhaustive independent assessment process by a panel that is rumoured to have cost about £500,000.

In the assessment SA topped sections for tournament organisation and schedule‚ venues and host cities‚ as well as tournament infrastructure.

The other contenders have not taken kindly to the recommendation. First France cried foul‚ while the colourful prose emanating from the Emerald Island paints it as a country green with envy.

The Irish Independent on Sunday launched a withering attack on Alexander‚ in particular for his role in Durban’s botched attempt to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Under the headline, "As World Rugby rakes its studs down our backs‚ we should be talking about Durban debacle"‚ the paper questions World Rugby’s independent recommendation. It suggested the South African bid "is flawed on so many levels‚ not the least of which is the security rating given to SA by the World Cup review committee".

The article went on to hypothesise that the financial future of World Rugby may be at risk if SA bails out again.

"We have our challenges like any other country‚" SA Rugby’s boss acknowledged.

"We have factionalism in our country‚ Europe has terrorism. We all have our problems.

"I do not want to comment on what these individuals have said, because I don’t want to stoop to their level."

"If the vote goes the other way [against SA] it will be a vote of no confidence in the World Cup rugby board," Alexander said.

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