Rugby and cricket are back in the Sports Ministry’s “good” books.
The two relevant federations, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) and Cricket South Africa (CSA), were congratulated on Tuesday for meeting their transformation targets for 2015/16 following the drama of last year.
Former Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula controversially banned five national sporting federations from hosting international events as punishment for their failure to comply.
Yet that clearly sparked Saru and CSA into action, whose bans have now been overturned by new incumbent, Thulas Nxesi.
“Rugby, netball and cricket, congratulations on your improved barometer scores,” he said at the handover of the 4th Transformation Barometer Report in Pretoria.
“Their right to bid for hosting of international events within South Africa is immediately reinstated.”
To be honest, however, rugby and cricket had expected to meet their requirements.
Various administrators from both codes had previously mentioned the federations fell ‘victim’ to the timing of last year’s report.
“When the minister banned cricket last year, it was based on 2014/15’s data. But CSA had already implemented the new quota regulations, so it was merely timing that counted against the sport,” said one administrator on the condition of anonymity.
Saru will be particularly pleased as they can now ramp up their efforts in the bidding war for 2023’s Rugby World Cup.
“We can now put the finishing touches to what we believe will be an outstanding bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup,” said Mark Alexander, Saru president.
“We have kept the ministry up to speed with our thinking and state of preparation throughout the suspension and continue to enjoy an excellent relationship with our sports leaders.”
Ironically, Athletics SA remain under scrutiny despite world-class performances from athletes such as Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya and Akani Simbine.
“You have presented us with a dilemma,” said Nxesi.
“Your score against the targets you set for yourselves is again less than 50%. ASA will need to work closely with the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) with regards to next year’s data.”
It’s another harsh reminder that ASA’s governance leaves a lot to be desired still.