South Africa join host of World Cup bidders

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The Independent Online

South Africa is bidding to host either the 2015 or 2019 Rugby World Cup.

South Africa Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said in a statement that the bid was delivered to IRB officials in Dublin today.

"South Africa in this day and age is set up to host the very biggest global sporting events and we believe we would offer rugby an unrivaled showcase for the game," Hoskins said, adding that the South African government fully supported the bid.

South Africa has spent millions building and improving stadiums and transportation and other infrastructure to prepare to be the first African country to host the football World Cup, in 2010. Next month, South Africa hosts football's Confederations Cup.

England and Japan are reportedly also bidding to host either World Cup. The International Rugby Board will announce the hosts on 28 July.

South Africa hosted and won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, a year after apartheid ended. The country's first black president, Nelson Mandela, famously attended the final in a Springboks jersey, until then associated in the minds of many blacks with racism.

The 1995 tournament offered South Africa's new, multiracial democracy a chance to celebrate as one nation.

Bryan Habana, who played for the Springboks in the 2007 World Cup-winning team, is hoping South Africa is successful and can relive the excitement from 1995.

"The Rugby World Cup is special to me and to all South Africans — and not just because I played in a winning team," Habana said. "The 1995 Rugby World Cup was a magical time in South Africa's national life and I believe that if it were to return here, we'd provide the stage to create even more special memories — both for South Africa and world rugby."

South Africa is currently hosting cricket's Indian Premier League and will host the sport's Champions Trophy later this year, with both tournaments having to be shifted for security reasons.