Small: France RWC 2023 'one of worst decisions ever'

James Small (Gallo Images)
James Small (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok wing and Rugby World Cup winner James Small was left gobsmacked by the decision to award France the right to host of 2023 Rugby World Cup.

READ: Rugby Africa voted against South Africa!

Small, and the rest of South Africa, had expected the country to be awarded the tournament for the first time since 1995 on Wednesday after World Rugby had put forward the country as its official recommended host nation. 

READ: Did political unrest, crime cost SA RWC 2023?

But, after two rounds of voting from the World Rugby Council, France emerged as the victors while South Africa was left wondering what more it had to do to bring the tournament back to these shores. 

Small, who famously won the 1995 World Cup with the Boks on home soil, did not mince his words when illustrating his disappointment at the decision. 

"It was our turn," he told Sport24 on Thursday.

"I was there (France) in 2007 and it was a well put together tournament, but the country didn't revolve around it.

"I think they've (World Rugby) been a bit short-minded. It's such a big event here and it defines the country."

Small believes that South Africa has contributed a lot to the global game over the years and he says that, despite the poor state of the national team currently, South Africa should have been rewarded for its contribution to rugby. 

"It would give us something to work towards as a unified team. We need a pat on the back for what we've tried to achieve with the political situation," he said.

"You need a pat on the back every now and again and I think it was the perfect opportunity to give us that.

"Our results aren't the best at the moment but the cycle will turn. A completely representative South African team winning the World Cup at home could have had just as much impact as what the 1995 World Cup had."

Exactly when South Africa can expect to host another World Cup is now unclear with the likes of the USA and Australia reportedly favourites to securing the tournament in 2027 and 2031, respectively. 

By then, it will have been 36 years since that famous tournament in 1995.

"I think it's just one of the worst decisions anybody has ever made," Small added.

"It leaves you kind of breathless."

Small, now 48, played in 47 Tests for the Boks between 1992 and 1997, scoring 20 tries in the process. 

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