The lifting of the sanction will allow national government to formally back SA Rugby’s bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023‚ after months of the speculation.
SA Rugby fell foul of two of 13 barometers set out by the EPG in the period 2014/15 when their original assessment was done.
It was a situation SA Rugby publicly took on the chin‚ but privately challenged with then sports minister Fikile Mbalula and member of the EPG Dr Willie Basson.
Regardless‚ Mbalula suspended SA Rugby’s right to host mega-events last April‚ at precisely the time the body was bidding to host RWC 2023.
Sources have confirmed to TMG that SA Rugby has met all targets laid out by the EPG and will have the suspension lifted.
Basson himself hinted strongly that SA Rugby “would receive good news” when questioned about the EPG’s updated findings.
Key indicators that SA Rugby had to meet was the number of black players and coaches at national level. That target has been reached.
In the months that followed the original ban SA Rugby continued with its bid application‚ meeting all World Rugby’s deadlines.
Until the EPG’s latest report is made public‚ and confirms that SA Rugby has met all 13 barometers‚ which will happen on Tuesday‚ new sports minister Thulas Nxesi won’t confirm the bid’s support from national government.
But he did say that the legacy of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup had been positive for South Africa and that hosting another RWC would be beneficial.
“If I were to draw on my experiences from the Soccer World Cup in 2010‚ in terms of nation building‚ we saw both black and white in the stands supporting Bafana Bafana and enjoying the football‚” Nxesi said.
“The legacy of that tournament‚ amongst black and white‚ is very important. A big part of that legacy is the stadia that were built‚ which means that we have the necessary infrastructure in place already and we don’t have to start from scratch.
“It means the hosting costs would be seriously reduced and I believe that the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 can also leave a huge legacy and make a big impact‚ just like soccer did (in 2010).”
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander was optimistic that the EPG’s report contained good news for rugby.
“I’m positive about what will come with the EPG report review because we are on track‚” Alexander said.
“We measure our progress and it will be announced soon.
“The government allowed us to run for RWC 2023 pending us receiving a pass mark from the EPG. We have a formidable bid that will deliver similar ticket sales numbers to England 2015.
“We have great stadiums‚ that are all-seaters‚ and we stand a good chance of winning this bid. It’s long overdue and would be good for South Africa.”
The EPG committee are:
Dr Somadoda Fikeni (Chair)
Ria Ledwaba (Deputy Chair)
Prof Marion Keim Lees
Prof Tim Noakes
Dr Xolela Mangcu
Louis von Zeuner
Wimpie du Plessis
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport