S Africa confirm Rugby WC hosting bid - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

S Africa confirm Rugby WC hosting bid

By David Legge 08/05/2009 06:29:13 AM Comments (0)

South Africa officials want to stage the Rugby World Cup 20 years after hosting the 'Nelson Mandela' final in which they defeated the All Blacks.

National rugby union president Oregan Hoskins confirmed on Thursday at a media conference in Johannesburg that South Africa have formally bid to run the 2015 or 2019 edition of the biennial tournament.

Winning the 2015 bid against expected opposition from England, Italy and Japan would bring the Rugby World Cup back to South Africa on the 20th anniversary of a tournament that reached far beyond sport.

President Mandela wore a replica shirt of Springbok captain Francois Pienaar to the final and presented the trophy after an extra-time Joel Stransky drop goal gave the hosts a thrilling 15-12 triumph in their first appearance.

A book has been written about the tournament and a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon is being shot in Cape Town.

In the streets around final venue Ellis Park, black and white South Africans hugged each other as they celebrated the first major sporting triumph by South Africa since the demise of apartheid.

Rugby was long viewed as having a close association with the apartheid government and the sport was played mainly by white Afrikaners with minimal black and mixed race participation.

The 1995 Boks reflected this sporting polarisation with only one mixed race rugby player, left wing Chester Williams, and no black in the World Cup-winning team.

Although rugby officials have often been at the receiving end of stinging government criticism over transformation, policies have borne fruit with up to half the players in some recent Bok teams being of black or mixed race origin.

"The 1995 Rugby World Cup was a magical time in our national life and I believe that if it were to return, we would provide the stage to create even more special memories," bid ambassador and star Bok wing Bryan Habana said.

Hoskins said a successful South Africa bid would see the opening match and final staged at Soccer City, the 90,000-seat stadium near Soweto that will fill the same functions at the FIFA World Cup next year.

Australia pulled out of the running this week, believing the fees demanded for tournament rights were too steep. The International Rugby Board seeks 120 million dollars for the 2015 Cup and 144 million for the following edition.

New Zealand will stage the tournament for the second time in two years time after competition from Japan and South Africa and the winners of the 2015 and 2010 bids will be announced on July 28 in Dublin.

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