At the presentations to World Rugby the week before last,each country spoke of projected profits, of stadia, infrastructure, ticket sales, hospitality, but by in large the most important contributors, the players themselves, were barely mentioned, with the exception of the South Africa bid.
With Francois Piennar and John Smit on the panel they certainly painted the picture of a player centric tournament, should they get the opportunity to host it in 2023.
At a time when player welfare is a hot topic, with talk of the possibility that players may be have to go on strike to reduce the intolerable increased demands being put upon them, and their health, the Springbok delegation were at pains to point out that player welfare will be at heart of RWC 2023, should they be declared hosts.
One of their key pillars of delivering the tournament centres on match schedules and team bases, designed to maximise player welfare, ahead of cost or indeed any other considerations.
Some of the proposals may seem small and insignificant, but the fact that they are the only bidders to even mention the players in their plans, gives them a lot of respect and credibility in my opinion, and who knows it may just be the little extra factor that makes the difference between winning and losing the Rugby World Cup bid.
A South African world cup ensures all training venues are a maximum 17 minutes travelling time from the teams accommodation, and all training venues will have everything in one location such as swimming pool, gym, indoor and outdoor pitches.
Players will not have to check out of their “home” hotels for “away” matches in the pool stages, they will simply vacate their rooms with minimal luggage for their trip.
Travel will be reduced to a minimum, in the pool stages 8 teams will remain at their home team base, playing all matches at their home venues, with the remaining 12 teams only having to travel “away” for one of their matches.
For the semi finals and finals all four teams will locate to Johannesburg for the final two weeks of the tournament.
Aside from player welfare, the weather (Averaged at 22 degrees in September and October) and beer were highlighted, with South Africa stating a beer worked out at £1,75 in their country, as opposed to £5.70 in France, and £4.25 in Ireland.
Because of the sheer size of all eight of the stadiums designated for use, more tickets would be on sale than at any other world cup, 2.9 million to be exact, 400,000 more than the England 2015 tournament.
The final would be played at the National Stadium in Johannesburg, which has a capacity of 87,436 making it potentially the largest ever Rugby World Cup Final in history.
South Africa last hosted the tournament in 1995, as if you needed reminding, and who will ever forget the two men that wore the green and gold number 6 shirt that day, a day enshrined in rugby history, but more importantly a day when rugby was the catalyst for uniting a country, a day when Francois Piennar lifted the pot of gold at the beginning of the rainbow nation.