The Springboks managed to severely embarrass SA days before a crucial vote on the host country for Rugby World Cup 2023 after losing 38-3 to bid rivals Ireland in Dublin‚ but it is unlikely to have a material influence on delegates.
The World Rugby Council will cast its votes in London on Wednesday in a contest between SA‚ Ireland and France to decide the host country.
As dismal and bleak as the Springboks’ performance in Dublin this weekend was‚ decisions about hosting a tournament of the size and scale of a Rugby World Cup are not made on one-off games between two rival bidders.
An expected social media backlash did try to link the two outcomes‚ but the truth of the matter is that an independent technical review committee had spent months evaluating each of the three bids.
After detailed analysis, the bids were scored on six weighted criteria and SA’s bid achieved nearly 79%‚ which was 3% higher than France and 6% more than Ireland. Since World Rugby revealed the technical committee scores nearly two weeks ago‚ the Irish bid committee in particular has tried to put SA down at every turn.
France‚ through its chairman Bernard Laporte, objected to some of the scoring‚ but did not attack SA’s bid‚ rather focusing on how the technical committee overlooked some of the country’s strengths.
The Irish attack has been disappointing‚ especially since all council members had to sign a code of conduct that included accepting the technical committee’s recommendation. Ireland’s record win over the Boks added to misplaced feelings of injustice on some platforms‚ although Irish Rugby CE Phil Browne tried to strike a more conciliatory tone in an interview with the Irish Examiner.
"There’s a fine line between whingeing and having justifiable concerns round the accuracy of what is contained in a report that World Rugby has placed so much store and weight on‚" Browne said.
"The answer is it [the outcome] is finely balanced amongst the three bids. We owe it to ourselves‚ the government and people of Ireland‚ who have been very enthusiastic‚ to fight to the end for it."
SA Rugby CE Jurie Roux and president Mark Alexander were in Dublin to witness the loss against Ireland — yet another record loss — and must be worried about SA Rugby’s image.
Roux, though, reminded World Rugby delegates of their fiduciary responsibility to consider the technical committee’s assessment and scoring as the major influence on their vote on Wednesday. By agreeing to a transparent selection process, they had a commitment to vote according to the technical committee’s recommendation.
"We still have a vote to come on November 15… different people have different opinions, but they have a fiduciary responsibility to act accordingly‚" Roux said. "We hope that sanity will prevail because an independent process is there for a very specific reason — to keep it independent. It would now be very difficult for any federation to go against this independent outcome because it would laugh in the face of transparency and process."