|Australia Rugby Union CEO|
Australian Rugby chief executive Bill Pulver believes that Rugby World Cup 2023 will be held in the Southern Hemipshere. In an interview with Australian journalist Greg Gowden, Pulver talked in depth about the financial problems facing the Australian Rugby Union and, amongst other things, indicated that he believes South Africa will host Rugby World Cup 2023. He also talked about the Rugby World Cup coming to South America but he put forth the year 2031 as the potential time.
Pulver´s comments raise questions over the conservative decisions not only made by the IRB but by the sports leading governing bodies. Central to the problem of a Rugby World Cup returning to South Africa is the fact that the country has been attempting to secure hosting rights but has been unable to do so. South Africa failed to secure Rugby World Cup 2011 after it lost in the first round with Japan being the second choice behind New Zealand. For 2015 England was shortlisted as the best option and subsequently was confirmed as the host nation with Japan also being confirmed to host in 2019. South Africa and Italy had both attempted to host but had been unsuccessful.
2023, as Pulver says, will likely be time for a return to the Southern Hemisphere. So far Argentina and South Africa have emerged as both being interested in hosting. There are other possibilities but they are not likely to go ahead - a return to either Australia or New Zealand. South Africa appears to be Pulver´s suggested option due to it having economic security. While the country no doubt has a proud and extensive rugby history it is far from being a safe option. The 2009 British and Irish Lions Tour was a case in point as the majority of matches were not only not full houses but many were, in fact, poorly attended. Furthermore, the country itself cannot be said to have an outstanding reputation in terms of safety for visitors and the general transportation system.
Why then is South Africa again to be considered as hosting the Rugby World Cup? The simple answer is that the ability of hosting a Rugby World Cup as considered, by many people, comes down to the old boys club. The same problem that saw New Zealand selected ahead of Japan, to the outrage of many, continues to exist to this day. The members of the IRB Council continue to significantly favor the same eight nations which participate in the former Five Nations and Tri Nations championships. Australia, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales each have two votes on the IRB Council while Argentina, Canada, Italy and Japan all only have one. It gets worse though as the USA has no vote nor do previous Rugby World Cup Quarter Finalists Fiji and Samoa and neither do any Rugby World Cup regulars Georgia, Romania and Tonga. Instead there is one vote per IRB region which means the founding nations, in effect, have veto as combined they have a clear majority.
Needless to say the decision to see New Zealand host of Japan did not come down to what the majority wanted. Instead only the first Tier nations with two votes each needed convincing. Such a system is not democratic but the IRB believes that democracy could ruin rugby. Or in the words of another Australian, IRB chief executive Brett Gosper "Given the economics of the IRB unions, I don't think there is any desire to move to a 'one federation, one vote' system. You can't, for instance, have Lithuania having the same clout at New Zealand or England - that's just not going to happen."
The translation is that the governing body of global rugby, the IRB, agrees with ancient Greek philosopher Plato. According to the often sourced classical political scientist, the ideal government is one run by the Philosopher King because it is he who can govern in a just manner without any hidden agenda. Rule by the masses, in contrast, means rule by self-interest and opinion. International rugby is run in a manner which implies that certain unions are more qualified to make decisions than others. The problem with this is that they have a decorated history of not voting in the interests of the greater good. Instead many decisions have seen a select few advantaged. A case in point is New Zealand winning the hosting rights to Rugby World Cup 2011 and another is Wales again hosting matches in Rugby World Cup 2015. In both cases first time hosts with fewer votes - Japan and Italy were out voted. Another case in point would be France or South Africa winning the rights to Rugby World Cup 2023 ahead of Argentina.