The city council of Port Elizabeth called on residents to support next weekend’s Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens as officials prepare to launch the city’s bid for the South African leg of the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series.
Nelson Mandela Bay will bid against Cape Town and Rustenburg for the right to host the event for a five-year period starting December 2011.
“Bay residents and sports lovers will need to demonstrate that they are behind the bid by actively supporting through media, word of mouth and all other avenues that are available,” said municipal spokesman Ongama Mtimka.
As part of the bid process, the municipality, which has sponsored the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens since its inception five years ago, would need to demonstrate that it had hosted successful tournaments in the past.
“Our plans for hosting the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens were always linked with our intentions of hosting the IRB Sevens,” Mtimka said.
“The tournament has demonstrated our ability to stage sevens matches and stimulated local support for this version of rugby.”
Organiser Laurence Finn said their original vision had been to establish the Bay as “the home of sevens rugby”.
“When we started five years ago, sevens rugby was a minnow sport without Olympic accreditation,” Finn said.
“The game was barely alive at provincial level and most rugby supporters didn’t even understand the rules.”
This year’s tournament, which takes place at Andrew Rabie High School on December 3 and 4, has attracted more than 1,200 participants from across the country.
“Over the past five years, we have also run South Africa’s only sustainable sevens rugby coaching programme, which has seen thousands of boys and girls introduced to the sport,” said Finn.
He believed this developmental legacy would help to sway the IRB officials in the favour of Nelson Mandela Bay.
According to the deputy chair of the parliamentary sports committee, Cedrick Frolick, the government would also support the Eastern Cape bid.
Mtimka said that, while the metro was excited that the bid enjoyed recognition from national stakeholders, “it must be viewed from the basis that we have actively canvassed to host the event when the existing contract with George comes to an end.”
The metro’s bidding process will be conducted in partnership with key stakeholders Eastern Province Rugby and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium management.
“The FIFA Soccer World Cup confirmed the significance of hosting major events in the city,” said Mtimka.
“Aside from the direct income expected during the event, the IRB Sevens brand has grown significantly and we believe our association with it will bring enormous exposure through being linked with other major international host cities.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens has in the past featured top international and Springbok players and is also widely acknowledged as a showcase for up-and-coming talent.
Article courtesy of Rugby365