Francois Pienaar

A small world and a big prize

2005-06-15 13:32
For all your bid information visit the official bid site at <a href= class=tenred target=_new></a><br>

For all your bid information visit the official bid site at

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Dear News24

Athletes often say the 1 500m is the most tactical of all the Olympic track events. Every move, every break must be perfectly timed to be effective.

Almost midway through this current contest, the race to host the IRB Rugby World Cup feels the same.

The general perception seems to be that, with five months left before the IRB decision in November, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa remain closely grouped. No candidate is storming ahead, and nobody is lagging behind.

I'm happy with this situation. Our proposition is that, in 2011, South Africa will be uniquely positioned to stage the best Rugby World Cup ever, taking rugby union to a new level worldwide, and I'm content that our case is being well received around the globe.

Four specific phases

At the outset of this campaign, we identified four specific phases in the race, something like the four laps of the 1 500m race.

Our plan was, and remains, to set our own pace, pursue our own strategy and, of course, to cross the line first in November.

The first phase was to produce an outstanding Bid Book. I believe we have achieved this goal.

Ever since our official Book launch in Johannesburg, prior to our deadline day delivery to the IRB in Dublin, we have been told that our comprehensive and readable tender document raises all the standards.

The second clearly identified phase, which has occupied us for much of the past six weeks, has been to meet and lobby individual Council members of the International Rugby Board, the men who will gather and make the eventual decision in November.

This intensive dash around a small world has been both productive and profoundly encouraging. Our case is strong, our presentations have been well received, and the signs are positive.

Our travel schedules have been as tight as bathwater, although the lobbying team, variously comprised of Saru President Brian van Rooyen, Bid Chairman Mthobi Tyamzashe, and myself have kept up the pace, making meetings and catching flights.

We began in Europe, with five meetings in five days: England on Monday, Ireland on Tuesday, Scotland on Wednesday, Wales on Thursday and France on the Friday.

Our second trip took us east, to Hong Kong on Monday, Sydney on Tuesday, Brisbane on Wednesday and back to yet another meeting in Sydney on the Thursday before flying home.

Last week, we headed west, to Buenos Aires on Wednesday and Paris on the Thursday evening, and, this week, we plan to spend Thursday in Rome and Friday in London.

The message is clear

At each meeting, our message is clear and consistent: that, to stage a successful IRB Rugby World Cup, a prospective host must provide two elements - the infrastructure and stadia worthy of a global event and the passion of a nation who will fill the stands and maximise revenue.

Our submission is that South Africa has both.

So the campaign continues. Phase three will be to host a successful IRB Evaluation tour at the end of July, and the fourth and last phase will be another round of lobbying around the world.

It is indeed a small world, but the prize is a big direct injection of R8bn into the economy, more than 43 000 jobs, tourism growth - and we will not rest until we have brought this event back to Africa.



  • Francois Pienaar is the Rugby World Cup bid CEO, visit the official bid site at
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