SA Rugby pour cold water on suggestions of mini World Cup

Plans for a World Cup style tournament in 2021 to help ease the financial crisis in rugby appear further from reality than its architects believe it to be.

Details of the ambitious 16-team tournament‚ which its organisers say will raise up to £250 million (R5.3 billion)‚ were revealed in the Telegraph today but SA Rugby has poured cold water on the notion such a tournament is possible.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said the organisation was unaware of plans for such a tournament. He was loath to comment on a venture of which he had no knowledge.

For the tournament to have a modicum of credibility‚ it would have to include the Springboks‚ the reigning Rugby World Cup winners.

Much of the ground work for the proposed tournament has apparently been steered by former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron.

The Telegraph reported the Rugby Football Union has been urged to back radical plans for staging a special World Cup-style tournament in the United Kingdom and Ireland next summer.

“It is understood draft proposals for a 16-team invitational tournament‚ to be held in June and July next year‚ have been submitted to both World Rugby and the RFU for consideration‚ with a working title of the ‘Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby’‚” the paper wrote.

“The competition‚ the centrepiece of a financial rescue plan independently drawn up by former RFU chief executive Francis Baron‚ is based on the template used for the 2015 World Cup in England – but would involve matches played at the national stadiums of each of the four Home Unions.”

Although the game has been hit hard by the pandemic‚ it is unlikely 16 nations will gather for a tournament in an already congested calendar.

SA Rugby have reason to be protective over that mid-year slot as the British and Irish Lions are due to start their tour of South Africa in July.

With up to 40 000 tourists descending on South Africa‚ the tour could be a lifeline for SA Rugby who have struggled to keep their heads above the water.

The tour will be a lifeline to the organisation that has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions. The local rugby industry has taken R1 billion off its budget.

“We had just emerged from the slump from 2016 and 2017 and were starting to show a profit. Then Covid-19 comes around and we have to start from scratch‚” said Alexander.

– TimesLIVE

Source: ARENA Holdings.