Rugby Africa: We were 'ignored' by SA Rugby

Abdelaziz Bougja (Getty)
Abdelaziz Bougja (Getty)

Cape Town - Rugby Africa refuses to confirm, or deny, that it voted against South Africa and for France at Wednesday's World Rugby Council vote that determined the hosts for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

READ: SA's bid boob: Our R1.2bn 'inferiority'?

South Africans were left stunned at losing out to France, especially after they had been confirmed as World Rugby's official recommendation. 

In the end, South Africa went down by 24 votes to 15. 

In the aftermath of what was a shocking result, there were widespread reports that SA Rugby, remarkably, had failed to secure the two votes assigned to Rugby Africa. 

Sport24 contacted Rugby Africa president Abdelaziz Bougja, who lives in France, on Thursday and while there was no official confirmation as to where Rugby Africa placed their tick, Bougja did not paint a picture of a harmonious relationship between his organisation and SA Rugby. 

Bougja explained the process that Rugby Africa had taken in deciding who to vote for.

"We had a democratic process inside the Executive Committee," he said.

"We explained before what our process would be ... it was very transparent.

"The process was that all nine members of the Exco would vote, confidentially.

"How can the people know who we voted for and who we didn't vote for? I would like to know how.

"Our process was confidential and also when we went to the (World Council) vote, it was secret. You just put a tick on the name, so how can the people say we voted against or for? We don't know."

Bougja added that Rugby Africa, as an organisation, was in the unique position of having two "parents". 

"We have a huge French community in Africa. It was very hard for us," he said.

Instead of looking at who voted for who, Bougja encouraged critics to look at why South Africa had lost out on the vote. 

"Did they (South Africa) do things the right way? Did they go to visit the unions and make relations?" he posed.

"We never had been consulted by SA Rugby to get us to come on board ... we never had that chance to work with them on that.

"We have been totally ignored."

Bougja added that the official World Rugby recommendation was never designed to instruct the unions and confederations on who to vote for. 

"It's a vote. You pay people to give you understanding of the process, not to vote in your place," he said.

"When we started the process it was clear. We had a tool, and the tool was the recommendation. Then the people have to decide by themselves."

While he refused to give up where the Rugby Africa vote had gone, Bougja did acknowledge that rugby on the continent would have benefited more from having the tournament in South Africa.

"I don't think that we will get the same advantages (now) as we would if it was in South Africa," he said.

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