Beleaguered South Africa were reminded again on Wednesday that realpolitik, to put it bluntly, is a bitch.
We were promised the 2023 Rugby World Cup by SA Rugby and even World Rugby but we didn’t get it.
It really isn’t surprising because the world in 2017 functions according to the politics of practicality, not morality or happiness.
In other words: fairy tales don’t happen.
It’s a depressing thought yet I’m not sure if we should despair over this outcome.
To be honest, we should be grateful.
I don’t want to focus on the external factors that derailed our bid.
All I can say is that African unity is a myth.
Rugby Africa, the continental governing body, didn’t vote for us.
They voted for France.
Abdelaziz Bougja, the Rugby Africa president, has been living in France for the past 30 years.
Put two and two together.
Some observers say South Africa lost because they played by the rules like gentleman.
We probably should be proud about that but, unfortunately, nice guys do finish last in these contests.
That’s the way the world works.
However, I’m not interested in the murky, ugly world of lobbying.
I’m far more encouraged by the belief that our failed bid re-emphasises that we live in a deeply flawed country.
I fully agree that, in rugby terms, South Africa is miles ahead of the rest of the candidates in terms of stadium infrastructure.
But what many seemed to forget is World Rugby’s criteria of “an enabling environment of political and financial stability”.
South Africa simply can’t provide that guarantee over the next six years.
I don’t need to tell you about the uncertainty regarding our political future – we don’t even know for certain what’s going to happen at the ANC’s elective conference.
Government provided a R2.9 billion guarantee to World Rugby but I can’t help but feel it’s money wasted given our current fiscal mess.
It’s naive to think that budgeted amount will go for a worthy cause yet in our current situation, any public money that isn’t spent irregularly or on an uncertain venture feels like a small victory.
We also don’t know in what situation our rugby will be by 2023.
Western Province’s commercial arm was liquidated last year, the Blue Bulls are downsizing and the smaller unions are to all intents and purposes already financially dead.
Saru has even reached the stage where senior Springboks pay for their own business class tickets to Europe because the local governing body can only afford economy class as part of an effort to save R200 million over the next two years.
Where will it end?
And even if we did win that bid, we couldn’t be guaranteed an influx of tourists and it’s associated economic benefits.
We don’t know what effect Brexit could have on British tourists’ disposable income.
Maybe Europe is hit with a recession again, maybe the developed world is helping the US overthrow North Korea or maybe our country has just collapsed.
Be glad this showpiece tournament won’t happen … because we simply just don’t know anything.