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

SA has another seat at World Rugby’s top table.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has been elected to World Rugby’s executive council following elections held in Dublin. He will join another South African‚ Wendy Luhabe‚ who has served on the executive as an independent member.

Alexander beat former Irish flanker John O’Driscoll‚ who toured SA with the British and Irish Lions in 1980‚ to the seat.

Alexander will be aware of the need to establish himself among the game’s power brokers and affect decisions that impact on SA as a major rugby nation. It was he who presided over a failed bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup when SA lost out to France in 2017.

Decisions affecting match officials is another area in which SA needs to more vociferously state its case on the global stage.

When asked if the country needs to make its voice heard more forcefully at the game’s highest level‚ Alexander said from Dublin: “World Rugby is moving into a phase where they want to embed stronger corporate governance. They have done away with the committees that took care of different aspects of the game. That’s why they have strong independent members like Luhabe.”

Earlier in a SA Rugby drafted statement Alexander said: “It is a huge honour to be named on the executive body among a number of highly respected administrators in the game. These are exciting times for rugby with a number of opportunities — as well as challenges — and I’m delighted to be part of this group that will be determined to continue the growth and interest in the game around the world.”

Alexander‚ who became a member of the World Rugby council in 2016‚ will occupy the seat on the executive vacated by Ireland’s Pat Whelan, who stepped down earlier in 2018.

At the meeting in Dublin‚ World Rugby’s second for the year‚ Fiji and Samoa were welcomed onto an expanded council‚ while Burkina Faso and Lebanon were accepted as associate members on a historic day for the international rugby federation.