Francois Pienaar

Double vision

2005-08-16 12:01

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Rugby World Cup bid CEO Francois Pienaar writes to News24 in a regular open letter.

Dear News24,

One of the crucial challenges of any campaign - whether you are trying to win the Tri-Nations championship or the right to host the Rugby World Cup in 2011 - is to take your supposed weaknesses and emphatically transform them into strengths.

I was recently approached by someone who said he was keen to discuss the "threat" posed by South Africa hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2010, just 12 months before the South African Rugby Union is proposing to stage the IRB Rugby World Cup.

"It's not a threat to our bid," I replied. "The fact that South Africa is hosting the football World Cup in 2010 is the reason why we want to stage the rugby showpiece in 2011."

He seemed surprised.

"Won't it be too much for one country to handle," he asked. "Shouldn't South Africa concentrate on one event?"

"Not at all," I answered, and proceeded to explain exactly why the 2010-2011 combination represents such an historic opportunity not just for South Africa, but also for world rugby.

Two reasons

"There are two reasons," I continued. "First, it's about the capacity to deliver a genuinely world-class platform and take Rugby World Cup to a new level. Second, it's about hosting major events to gather and sustain momentum as a nation."

The capacity issue is clear.

We are already committed to investing in the development of stadiums and other infrastructure required to host the Fifa World Cup in 2010: R1.8bn in stadium redevelopment and R6bn in transport infrastructure head the shopping list.

We are already committed to developing all kinds of skills, in administration, event management, accommodation, transport, IT, ticketing and among a vast body of trained volunteers.

Legislation is already passing through Parliament to create a legal and commercial environment that is ideal for the hosting of major global sports events, where rights holders are protected more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

In essence, South Africa will be ready for Fifa 2010, ready to welcome the 32 participating teams, an estimated 400 000 visiting spectators and a cumulative TV audience of 3 billion.

We will, therefore, be twice as ready to host the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2011. The stadia will have been primed, the systems will have been tested and the country's enduring passion for rugby means South Africans - spectators and sponsors - will be eager to welcome the sporting world all over again.

From a South African point of view, we will be staging two major international events for the price of one. From world rugby's point of view, the game's showpiece will be staged as never before on an unprecedented, world-class platform.

It's win, win.

Dividends

The momentum will deliver dividends on all sides: to players, who enjoy ideal weather and magnificent facilities; to sponsors, who maximise revenue on a clean commercial platform; to visiting fans, who discover fine hospitality, beaches, wildlife and value for money in the world's fastest growing tourist destination.

Five years ago, Australia announced itself on the world stage by hosting three major sporting events in quick succession, and the rolling benefits of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, the British and Irish Lions tour in 2001 and the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2003 are still evident in tourism, jobs and growth.

South Africa has the opportunity to create similar momentum through hosting the British and Irish Lions in 2009, the Fifa World Cup in 2010 and then the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He had listened to everything I said.

"So the 2010 World Cup is not a threat to hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011," he affirmed. "It's the reason to host the rugby because everything in South Africa will be so ready."

"Exactly," I replied.

Best,

Francois

  • Francois Pienaar is the Rugby World Cup bid CEO, visit the official bid site at www.sa2011.co.za
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