By Alvin Sallay
Will rugby officialdom seek to placate SouthAfrica or will the ‘home’ of rugby sevens Hong Kong get the opportunity to
host the 2022 World Cup Sevens?
This will be interesting poser for World Rugby when it’s decision-time to award the next World Cup Sevens. South Africa miffed at losing the right to host the 2023 rugby World Cup – 15-a-side – have come out and stated that
they would seriously consider holding the sevens showpiece in 2022.
South African Rugby Union ambition’s of hosting the World Cup again took a major knock after France were named hosts of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and this after South Africa had been announced as the preferred bidder by World Rugby.
Saru chief executive officer Jurie Roux soon after hinted to the country’s possible interest in having the world’s best teams in the shorter version of the game fighting for the Holy Grail in Cape Town, a stopover in the 10-leg HSBC Men’s World Sevens Series.
Roux felt that hosting a Sevens World Cup would make more economical sense for the country, with the tournament costing and lasting a fraction of what the fifteen-a-side tournament would.
FT: Breathtaking semi-final ends with @AllBlacks7s on course to defend their Rugby World Cup Sevens crown after beating Fiji 22-17
They face England at 17:53 hrs (GMT-7)
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 22, 2018
“Ideally there might be a Rugby World Cup Sevens coming soon and maybe as an alternative we might bid for that and Cape town is an ideal destination, an iconic city. It will probably come at a far less cost than a Rugby World Cup and not even a 10th of the cost and it will be a good influx for Cape Town,” Roux was quoted in the South African media.
Talking of iconic cities, there is none more famous for sevens than Hong Kong. And the Hong Kong Rugby Union has already come out and said they would consider a 2022 bid. Hong Kong hosted the 1997 and 2005 World Cup Sevens and rugby officials there are keen for a third edition, especially if the proposed new stadium at the former airport site in Kai Tak is up-and-running.
Asian rivals Singapore has also made its intentions of a possible bid with rugby officials in the city saying a 2022 bid is “on our radar”. Singapore, like Hong Kong, is also a stopover in the World Sevens Series.
The 2018 World Cup Sevens was held in San Francisco. New Zealand won the title.
Former Fiji coach Ben Ryan, who guided the Pacific Islanders to the Olympic gold in Rio, believes that with the rise of Sevens in Asia, cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai would be excellent venues to have a big global tournament.
But if World Rugby is set to appease traditional rugby superpower South Africa, for the perceived slight of being overlooked as hosts of the 2023 World Cup, then Asia could lose out. And with Japan set to host the Rugby World Cup in September, rugby bosses might feel it is the turn of another continent to host the next big showpiece.