South Africa bids for Rugby World Cup

Friday, May 8, 2009

Johannesburg - The South African Rugby Union has delivered its bid to host either the 2015 or 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The announcement of the successful bidders for the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups will be made on 28 July, reports

South Africa successfully hosted the event in 1995, when Nelson Mandela famously donned the green-and-gold jersey before handing the William Webb Ellis trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.

South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins told a media conference in Johannesburg on Thursday that positive discussions with the government had seen the last brick fall into place in the organisation's bid to host rugby's showcase competition once more.

The government had provided the financial backing "to allow us to complete what we believe is a compelling case to bring the Rugby World Cup back home," Mr Hoskins said.

"South Africa in this day and age is set up to host the very biggest global sporting events, and we believe we would offer rugby an unrivalled showcase for the game

"Players, spectators and media would enjoy world-class facilities in purpose-built stadia; our financial model and time zoning would maximise commercial revenues; and we're a rugby-hungry country that can promise ideal playing conditions at a time of year when the Rugby World Cup would be the only sports event in the national imagination," he said.

In attendance at the press conference were 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Smit and former IRB Player of the Year Bryan Habana, who have joined other leading South Africans as ambassadors for the bid.

"The Rugby World Cup is special to me and to all South Africans, and not just because I played in a winning team.

"The 1995 Rugby World Cup was a magical time in South Africa's national life, and I believe that if it were to return here we'd provide the stage to create even more special memories - both for South Africa and world Rugby," said Mr Habana.

Saru deputy president Mark Alexander, the chairman of the bid committee, said the newly-refurbished 90 000-capacity Soccer City in Johannesburg would be the venue for the opening and final matches of any South African Rugby World Cup, and that other new stadiums, as well as existing rugby stadiums, would be used.

"South Africa is spending billions on upgrading our infrastructure and on venues to host the FIFA World Cup next year, and the legacy of that tournament offers rugby an incredible opportunity to put on a spectacular tournament in ideal conditions.

"Government has backed us every step of the way in our discussions with them, and both the financial and logistical support they offer would allow a hugely successful commercial tournament to be held without any problems," Mr Alexander said.