Port Elizabeth has won the bid to host the South African leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series rugby tournament for the next five years.
The inaugural event will take place in early December this year. SARU said that Port Elizabeth went the extra mile to compile a bid that outshone the other cities.
Across the Eastern Cape politicians and officials also celebrated. Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Xolisa Tom said this coup was an achievement for the whole Eastern Cape.
“We are so excited,” said Tom. “We really feel that we deserved this win, it is long overdue because the Eastern Cape is a rugby playing province and so many of our young people play rugby. We want our province to be seen as a sports events destination.”
Cheeky Watson who has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of rugby in the Eastern Province is also very upbeat about the decision.
“This is a very exciting moment for Nelson Mandela Bay and the entire Eastern Cape. We are all very well aware that this is the heart and soul of black rugby and we are extremely excited that SARU, the IRB and the sponsors have chosen this region as the South African leg for the World Sevens Series.
Between the IRB Sevens and inclusion in the Olympics, we expect Sevens Rugby to sky-rocket in the region”, said Watson.
The economic spinoffs are expected to total R 80 million per year and the media spin off is huge and bodes well for Jeffreys Bay too.
Jeffreys Bay Tourism wants to position the town as the base to explore the surrounding attractions and the IRB Sevens is a perfect fit for this vision.
Andy Thysman, CEO of Jeffreys Bay Tourism said that the town will market itself to visitors who will be coming to watch the rugby. “We are close enough to Port Elizabeth to take advantage of the spin off.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire province and we can show case Jeffreys Bay to a new market and look forward to a cash flow injection into the town in the early December when things are traditionally rather quiet”, said Thysman.