OPINION: Losing 2023 Rugby World Cup is a blessing

Thembelani Nxesi (South Africa Minister of Sport) chats to media during the 2023 Rugby World Cup announcement at Parliament in Cape Town on 31 October 2017.
Thembelani Nxesi Thembelani Nxesi (South Africa Minister of Sport) chats to media during the 2023 Rugby World Cup announcement at Parliament in Cape Town on 31 October 2017.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Instead of crying over spilt milk, South Africans should breathe a huge sigh of relief at the country's failure to get the hosting rights of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Just like the failed 2022 Commonwealth Games bid - when SA was stripped of the rights to host the event - the deciding vote that handed France the nod to stage the 2023 rugby spectacle at this week's announcement should be considered another blessing in disguise.

Our country has more pressing matters to worry about.

It boggles the mind that the government had given the World Rugby Council financial guarantees amounting to 160-million (R3-billion) to stage a tournament amid the challenging economic climate.

Just this week, President Jacob Zuma released the Fees Commission report and the same government said fee-free higher education was not yet affordable.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup would have benefitted only a few individuals and not the entire country as it was presented in the SA bid book, and more money would have been spent to spruce up the existing infrastructure, which are of high maintenance since they were erected in 2010.

While SA rugby bosses and some feel not getting 2023 is a bitter pill to swallow, the reality is that we should be glad that the "setback" affords us an opportunity to get our priorities right.

SA rugby president Mark Alexander said: "We are bitterly disappointed at this decision and would like to apologise to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes."

We say, no need to apologise Mr Alexander, rather consider this as a blessing.

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