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Bigger fish to fry





The fact that South Africa will no longer be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games should turn out to be a true blessing in disguise.

Predictably, the world’s media have made a hysterical meal of the decision to take the Games away from Durban. To my mind though a good decision was made. The uncertainty about the overall final cost to the country, and the potential for finances thrown at these sporting extravaganzas to balloon way out of control, gave South Africa’s leaders little option but to withdraw their support.

Many will question the wisdom of bidding for the Games in the first place, but you can hardly blame people for wanting a global sporting extravaganza to come to African shores for the first time. However, the red flags began appearing when other cities began pulling out, citing prohibitive costs, which eventually left Durban hosts by default after every other candidate city withdrew.

Looking ahead, I believe the long-term plan should be to throw everything at bringing the rugby World Cup to this country in 2023. To have two mega-sporting events in consecutive years would have been too much. Commonwealth Games in 2022 or rugby World Cup in 2023. The best choice by far is to plump for the latter.

Every piece of logic points toward South Africa hosting the RWC in 2023. Since the event began in New Zealand in 1987, it has alternated between the southern and northern hemisphere. The only time it hasn’t, will be in Japan in 2019. The Japan tournament was actually South Africa’s ‘turn’ to host the tournament, given it hasn’t done so since way back in 1995. But World Rugby decided they needed to expand the game’s horizons, and the vote went to Japan.

This means that if they give the 2023 tournament to either of South Africa’s bidding rivals – Ireland or France – that will make it three northern hemisphere tournaments in a row. That’s far too long a drought for such a global rugby powerhouse as South Africa.

I didn’t think that World Rugby would allow this to happen, and I think it’s just a matter of ticking all the boxes – especially transformation targets and government backing - for South Africa to get the 2023 tournament.

A Rugby World Cup tournament is far better for South Africa than a Commonwealth Games. For many reasons.

Firstly, the whole country is involved and not just one city. The stadiums used in the 2010 football World Cup are all still available to host rugby games, thus minimising infrastructure costs.

The main reason though is that the appetite in this country is greater for an established sport like rugby than it is for a second-tier multi-sport event.

Frankly speaking, the Commmonwealth Games belong to a bygone era. It’s a relic of colonialism, something which I thought the world was swiftly moving away from. In fact, the New Zealand website stuff.co.nz posted an article soon after the Durban decision, saying that the 2018 Games on Australia’s Gold Coast should be the final edition of an event that is no longer relevant.

I totally agree. It’s time to stick to our sporting knitting. We are the only nation in the world to have hosted a football, cricket and rugby World Cup since 1966. All three of the previous events were massive successes on every front.

A 2023 rugby World Cup would be just as successful.


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