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South Africa, locomotive of its continent

The Springboks’ coronation on October 28 at the 2023 Rugby World Cup can serve as a “catalyst for economic development and youth empowerment” in Africa.

This is the firm conviction of Herbert Mensah, the president of Rugby Africa, the umbrella body for this sport on the black continent. In the world of ovals, South Africa is the only nation to have lifted the Webb-Ellis trophy four times in its history.

After the victories of 1995, 2007 and 2019, the Springboks retained their title acquired in Japan a month ago by beating the New Zealand All Blacks in the final (12-11) at the Stade de France. Housed in Pool B, in the group stage, they recorded three successes (against Scotland, Romania and Tonga) and one defeat (against Ireland).

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In the quarter-finals, Siya Kolisi’s teammates defeated France, the host country of the tournament (28-29). In the semi-final, a small point was still enough for South Africa to beat England (15-16).

“ We never doubted your greatness. We never doubted the result. From the beginning, we knew your spirit was indomitable. Your refusal to accept defeat is a testament to your character. From the players who started the game to those who came off the bench, from the dedicated technical staff to the coaches and doctors, we had faith in you. Losing was never an option ,” Mr. Mensah said in a congratulatory message addressed to Mark Alexander, the president of the South African Rugby Union (Saru, acronym in English).

Continuing, the African rugby boss said South Africa has “given hope to the desperate, strength to the weak and confidence to those who might have doubted themselves”. This is why he wants to ride on this feat to develop the practice of rugby in our tropics: “The world has once again witnessed the vast potential of Africa. Investing in rugby in Africa means investing in a continent of 1.3 billion people, using this sport as a catalyst for economic development and youth empowerment.”

Transforming potential into power

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Herbert Mensah, the president of Rugby Africa, participated on November 10 in Marrakech, Morocco, in the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) created in 2018. On the occasion of this event supported by the African Development Bank (Bad ) and seven other partners, he made a plea in favor of the oval on the continent.

“ With abundant talent and global attention, Africa is at the forefront of the global market. It is time to transform this potential into power, by investing in ourselves, by forging structures that allow our resources to fuel our own growth, by freeing ourselves from the cycle of export and import that hinders the achievement of our true economic potential ,” he said.

In Africa, the sports industry is growing rapidly with the prospect of creating jobs, improving public health, fostering social inclusion and boosting economic growth.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consulting, auditing, legal and tax expertise firm, this industry, valued at $7 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $12 billion in 2027. “Despite this potential, investments in Africa remain limited with only 1% of startup funding directed towards the sports sector,” underlined a press release from Rugby Africa.

In four years in Australia, during a World Cup in which 24 countries will take part, South Africa will put its title on the line. To accelerate the development of rugby on the continent between now and then, Mr. Mensah encouraged “investment in sport across Africa in view of the importance of investment opportunities emerging from the continent itself”. In this sense, he advocated a change of mentality on the part of African governments and international organizations.

Source: ID/ac/APA

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