SA Rugby, the governing body of rugby union in South Africa, has filed an applicant submission to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup despite having been told by the country’s government that it is not allowed to bid for the tournament.
In April, SA Rugby, as well as Cricket South Africa, Athletics South Africa and Netball South Africa, were told by the Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula that they would not be allowed to bid for or host major events for at least a year after they fell short of “transformation targets” to integrate more black people into their sports.
However, SA Rugby met the deadline of midnight yesterday (Thursday) to file its applicant submission, formalising the bid following its earlier “expression of interest.”
“We have been shadowing the process and have submitted an application as per World Rugby's deadline,” an SA Rugby spokesperson told the Times Media news service. “However‚ whether we will be permitted to make a bid depends on whether rugby has met the targets we have agreed with government by the time of the next Eminent Persons' Group report in March next year.”
The report will determine whether SA Rugby has been more successful in meeting its transformation targets.
The government will need to underwrite the hosting costs for the tournament as well as a hosting fee. Mbabula said in April that “there is no federation in this country that can host any mega event without the government.”
France, Ireland and Italy are the other countries in contention for the Rugby World Cup, and a World Rugby Technical Review Group will start to evaluate the applicant submissions today. Applicants that meet the criteria will progress to the candidate phase on November 1‚ 2016, with the host nation announced a year later.