How race to host RWC 2023 has spiced up Ireland vs Springboks showdown
Irish eyes were supposed to be smiling with the prospect of the mouth-watering Test between the Ireland and the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
However‚ events off the field in regards with Ireland's “failed” 2023 Rugby World Cup bid have spiced up events to a point that the Springboks will not be facing the might of the 52,000 who will pack out the Aviva Stadium‚ but an aggrieved 4.8 million Irish who feel they should have been given the World Cup.
The 26th meeting between the sides shouldn't have been laced with off-the-field innuendo but events far beyond the control of Allister Coetzee's side have placed them in a difficult position.
A passionate Irish side is one of the most difficult propositions to deal with in international rugby‚ coupled with the fact that the Boks have only won two out of five matches when their 15-10 loss at Croke Park is included.
While SA Rugby chief executive officer Jurie Roux could and should shoulder the blame for stoking the fires‚ it was the Irish Rugby Union who said “they will compete until the last minute” after the Rugby World Cup Limited Board recommended South Africa to host for the 2023 event.
Roux said the Irish and the French “should stick to the moral high ground”‚ something that clearly hasn't sat very well with the Irish.
New Zealand Rugby writer Gregor Paul‚ who is noted for his distaste of everything South African‚ waded into the debate‚ saying South Africa's astronomically high murder rate‚ the distance between host cities and the general inequality means South Africa should not be hosting the World Cup.
Paul's stance can be understood from a small country perspective because New Zealand has a similar population to that of Ireland and the country missing out on hosting a World Cup may have lasting ramifications for them.
It's clear World Rugby wants to maximise profits from their showpiece event and unfortunately‚ that will come at the expense of smaller countries like Ireland who may have a lot to offer from a cultural and tourist perspective‚ but just don't have the infrastructure to make the tournament attractive from a television perspective.
While Croke Park (82,000) may rival the FNB Stadium (94,000)‚ some of Ireland's other arenas‚ Aviva (52,000)‚ Thomond Park (26,000)‚ Kingspan Stadium (19,000)‚ Casement Park (Proposed 34,500)‚ Pearse Stadium (27,000)‚ RDS (21,000) and Fitzgerald Stadium (proposed 50,000) pale into insignificance when compared to some of South Africa's already established rugby centres and the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums that will be pressed into service.
While the World Cup pain could be the fire in the Irish bellies‚ there's also the significance of Coetzee's side having more than pride to play for.
The Irish pulled their pants down in Cape Town before a comeback of the ages salvaged the series for the Boks.
That's just the onfield sub-plot‚ but Dublin has never been more terrifying for the Boks.