TWOREPORT'S contributors - Staff Reporter
A Southern Hemisphere battle is confirmed for Saturday as New Zealand’s All Blacks and Australia’s Wallabies make a scrum for the title; and the All Blacks will look to retain the Webb Ellis trophy and become the first team to do so since 1987 while either side could emerge the first national team in rugby history to win the title a record three times.
The eighth edition of the competition has proved to be special, with Japan’s opening victory over South Africa gaining global review (25 million TV audience in Japan alone) and England’s early exit among the many highlights on and off the field.
One nation has played a significant role in the success of this World Cup and previous editions, is Africa’s number one rugby nation, South Africa and in a feature for Brand South Africa, Brad Morgan vividly captures the progress and passion for the sports in the country.
“Sports, like no other South African institution, has shown it has the power to heal old wounds.
When the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home turf in 1995, Nelson Mandela donned the No 6 shirt of the team's captain - Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaan - and the two embraced in a spontaneous gesture of racial reconciliation that melted hearts around the country.
A single moment, and 400 years of colonial strife and bitterness ... suddenly seemed so petty.’’
Truer words couldn’t have been said.
The South-African national team, known as the Springboks are regarded as one of the best in the world and the records prove it as they’ve enjoyed a winning record against all other nations.
In terms of local competitions, The Currie Cup is the premier provincial rugby tournament and it was first contested in 1892. The most successful province in the history of the Currie Cup is Western Province with 33 titles. The Currie Cup takes place roughly between July and October and there are two divisions — Premier and First.
The Vodacom Cup has also become an important competition on the South African rugby calendar. It starts in late February and rounds up in mid-May. The Vodacom Cup is divided into two sections - North and South - with the top two teams advancing to the semi-finals and playing cross-section matches of one- versus-two for a place in the final.
By the time the next Rugby World Cup in 2023 will be underway, it would have been 28 years since they last hosted the competition. For a country that has sacrificed so much and contributed immensely to the growth of the sports, that could be described as too long.
Organizers of major sporting events in recent years have zoned and awarded hosting rights to developing nations as they seek to expand the frontiers of sports and tap into possible emerging markets. However, there’s a need not to lose focus and go on a merry-go-round that will not have the ripple effects a major power house hosting it should have.
In terms of the waiting audience, economic opportunities, international achievements and infrastructure, South Africa lacks none.
Sports writer, Sibusiso Mjikeliso believes hosting the 2023 World Cup will not only benefit the sports of rugby, but also the country, as some major infrastructure which costs about $8 billion to build ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ remain abandoned.
“The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be beneficial in putting some of the abandoned 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums in full use. As you know, government and sports entities have failed to come to a cordial solution regarding the Cape Town Stadium, Moses Mabhida Stadium and, to some extent, Mbombela,’’ he said.
South Africa is no stranger to hosting tournaments of international standing and if the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, football’s biggest event, is anything to go by, they are more than ready to welcome the world once again.
The Rugby World Cup costs less to host, more especially for a nation like South Africa that already possesses the necessary infrastructure thanks to the FIFA World Cup™; and 2023 could prove to have a greater impact on the national economy.
World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, should get behind this country as they seek to host the 10th edition of the tournament in the year of the 200th anniversary of the sport founded by William Webb Ellis. And with reports that after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, World Rugby may look to host the tournament in the sport’s 'heartlands', South Africa’s chances look brighter than other contenders namely France, Ireland and Italy.