Springboks legend Bryan Habana has issued his support for South Africa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, but admits they have time to make up if they are to challenge France and Ireland’s proposals.
The bid was only cleared last week when the South African government lifted its suspension on the country hosting major sporting events. With proposals having to be submitted by June 1, SA Rugby now has to hurry any submission before World Rugby’s deadline.
The change to eligibility rules will not necessarily halt the player drain in South African rugby as Bryan Habana believes there are a number of factors tempting the country’s best talent abroad.
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Ireland and France have already submitted rival bids for the 2023 showpiece. Back in November 2016, Ireland announced the 12 stadia forming their bid while France outlined their plans in February 2017.
Habana knows first-hand the impact a home World Cup would have on South Africa. The 1995 tournament was a hugely significant moment in South Africa’s post-apartheid history and Habana was sat in the Ellis Park stands for the victorious final, an experience that inspired him to take up the sport.
He would love South Africa to be given the chance to host another World Cup, but admits the country’s competition is ahead in its planning.
“Ireland and France are the other contenders and they didn’t have a political imposition put on them halfway through their campaign,” Habana said at a Land Rover event. “No other country deals with that.
The sight of Nelson Mandela presenting Springbok captain Francois Pienaar with the World Cup at Ellis Park in 1995 helped convince Habana to take up rugby. Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
“As players we just want the best for South African rugby and we want to be playing a level of rugby that sees us play our part in inspiring and giving hope and making South Africa a better place.
“I was involved in 1995 as a youngster and I saw Nelson Mandela walk out in that Springboks jersey which could never have happened in apartheid time. But there I sat as a 13-year-old youngster who had never picked up a rugby ball in terms of a team context, but it inspired me to hopefully one day inspire that next generation and to bring a nation together which so badly needs it because of the dis-unifying factors in our country at the moment.
“Rugby and sport has a huge role to play in unifying the country and bringing hope and installing inspiration where there once was none. 2023 would be great — Ireland and France are maybe a horse and hare in front of us at the moment in terms of their campaigns, but it’s something that I as an individual and the country can play a part in giving something back where it’s needed at the moment.”
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