Note to editors: Four audio files are attached of Warren Whiteley (English and Afrikaans), Oupa Mohoje (English and Sotho) and Jan Serfontein (Afrikaans) talking about SA Rugby’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
No-one knows the rugby set-up in South Africa better than the country’s best players and for Warren Whiteley, Oupa Mohoje and Jan Serfontein, playing in a Rugby World Cup in front of their own passionate supporters would be a massive highlight of their careers.
The three Boks spoke from the training camp in Plettenberg Bay, where they are preparing for next month’s three-Test Castle Lager Incoming Series against France.
“South Africa has a proud history of hosting successful events, and it would be fantastic for our country to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup,” said Whiteley, who will captain the Boks against France next month.
“The conditions for that time of the year, when the tournament is scheduled to take place, makes for great rugby settings. As players you would be able to play in an amazing atmosphere, in great surroundings which will be pleasing to spectators and the many visitors from different parts of the world.
“We only get to play twice a year at home in the window reserved for the Rugby World Cup and that time of year is perfect for rugby If you look at the stats, in our home Tests in September and October the last few years, against top opposition, there is an average of six tries per match. Just think of the epic clashes against the All Blacks in 2013 and 2014, or against the Wallabies in those years.”
Mohoje, who started for the Boks in their epic victory over the All Blacks at Emirates Airline Park in 2014 in front of almost 62,000 spectators, echoed these sentiments: “South Africa really is the perfect host for the Rugby World Cup. I was five years old in 1995 when we last hosted it and my lasting memories are of the wonderful crowds and the superb rugby dished up.
“I was in awe of Joost, Ruben, Francois, Chester, James, ‘Jouba’, Jonah and many others. It’s probably fair to say that I developed my love for rugby back then – I wanted to play like these guys and to think that there is a possibility of us hosting the Rugby World Cup again in 2023 is wonderful.
Serfontein was too young in 1995 but he is confident that South Africa can host a great tournament in six years’ time.
“I was fortunate to play for the Junior Boks in 2012, when we hosted the World Rugby Under-20 Championship, and playing in front of a massive crowd in the final against New Zealand is one of my best rugby memories,” said Serfontein.
“We have great venues, the passion for the game here is wonderful and we really have a superb country for visitors. Apart from the ideal playing conditions and the infrastructure, by 2023 we will have waited a long time to host the tournament again.”