South Africa 2023 World Cup ban may help Irish capture showpiece
One of Ireland's rivals to host the 2023 World Cup could have its bid scuppered by its own government.
South Africa has long been considered a strong possibility to be awarded the global showpiece but the country's sports minister has forbidden their four top sports federations from bidding for major international tournaments for at least 12 months in light of a continued failure to create opportunities for black players.
Fikile Mbalula came to the decision after receiving a report into how the five top sports had progressed with a "transformation memorandum" and, with only football meeting its targets, released the news yesterday.
"I've resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa, Cricket South Africa, Netball South Africa and South African Rugby Union to host and bid for any major international and mega tournaments in the Republic of South Africa as a consequence of the aforementioned federations not meeting their own set transformation targets with immediate effect," he said.
"The transformation project must succeed. As our government directed the sports sector to, among others, promote social cohesion and nation-building through increased interaction across race and class in sport."
Mbalula's ban comes into place with immediate effect and will cloud the issue of SARU's bid to host rugby's top competition for the first time since 1995.
The decision will be reviewed when the federations' transformation efforts for 2016-17 have been submitted but that could take until early 2018.
World Rugby will next month release tenders to those who have declared their interest and countries must confirm their intention to bid in June.
Italy and France are the others in the running with any successful Irish bid expected to utilise both the Kingspan Stadium and a redeveloped Casement Park.