16 months after the then Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula suspended SA Rugby from bidding for international events due to a lack of transformation, the current Minister has approved the financial guarantees needed for South Africa to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. World Rugby is asking SA Rugby for guarantees of R3.7 billion. The decision by Mbalula in April last year did little to deter SA Rugby from continuing with the bidding process. In September SA Rugby submitted its bid. And by March, even though a decision hadn’t been taken regarding the suspension, Mbalula (still Sports Minister) was already privately supporting the 2023 World Cup bid. A World Cup technical team was in the country to begin its assessment of the SA Rugby bid. It was as if the suspension didn’t exist. But officially a favourable report was needed from the Sports Ministry’s Eminent Persons’ Group which was set up to monitor transformation targets. In May, the EPG report confirmed SA Rugby was meeting the targets, and the suspension was lifted. Now we wait until November to see if South Africa’s bid trumps those of France and Ireland. – David O’Sullivan

From SARugby

SA Rugby on Thursday thanked the South African government and the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Thulas Nxesi, for their support in providing the required financial guarantees to bring the Rugby World Cup tournament back home in 2023.

The Cabinet approved a request for guarantees to the value of R2.7 billion, which was required from World Rugby, as a prerequisite in hosting the showpiece rugby spectacle.

“We could not take this journey alone and we’re delighted to take hands with Government as we bid to bring the Rugby World Cup back to South Africa for the first time since 1995,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“They have been supportive of the bid for every step of the process but this is a big moment to share a stand with Government on our shared vision. We’re very grateful to Mr Nxesi, the Director General, his department and the entire Government.

“It would be a marvellous, inspirational nation-building moment to recapture some of the excitement of 1995, but it would also have enormous practical benefits for our country.

“Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 would have a R27 billion direct, indirect and induced economic impact on South Africa; R5.7billion would flow to low income households; 38 600 temporary or permanent jobs would be sustained and there’d be an estimated R1.4 billion tax benefit to government.”

In a statement, the Ministry said: “Cabinet has approved the overall proposed package for this tournament which is an economic bid which would minimise the demands on the fiscus as well as stimulate economic activity, employment and empowerment.