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How the voting may have gone

The hidden transparency

Syd Millar, the chairman of the International Rugby Board, announced that New Zealand would host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He also said, in an interview, that the process had been transparent.

It was in all probability above board, audited by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, whose leader presented the envelope with the name to Millar, and the leader was that great Irish wing and captain, Tom Grace.

Nobody will doubt at all that the process was fair and honest. But how transparent was it?

The voting was done by secret ballot. Millar, who did not have a vote, said that nobody knew – or would know – how many votes were cast for each of the tendering countries – Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.

It would be fun to speculate, and what follows is pure speculation by an outsider who was not in Dublin and who has not spoken to anybody who was there. So this is not leaked information – lest we spark an investigation.

There were 24 votes available. The foundation members had two each – Australia, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. That's 16 votes.

Argentina, Canada, Italy and Japan have one vote each. That makes it 20.

Africa, Asia, Europe (FIRA) and Oceania have one vote each. That makes it 24. (It is not immediately clear why the Americas have only observer status.)

Japan, New Zealand and South Africa did not vote in round one. That means that there were 19 votes available.

Let's speculate on who voted for whom.

For Japan

Australia voted for Japan and said afterwards that it was a pity that they did not get it.

Presumably the Asia vote would have gone to Japan though the representative there, Jamie Scott, is a New Zealander by birth. He would have had a mandate.

Canada may well have voted for Japan. After all they have regular competition with Japan and are just across a short(ish) sea from Tokyo.   

Then England may well have voted for Japan as well.

That would make 6 votes.

Why would Australia and England vote for Japan?  It could of course be that they thought it was the right thing to do – for rugby's sake and the growth of rugby, and so on.

Suspicious people who always suspect ulterior motives may suggest that Australia and England, two countries with a realistic expectation of winning a World Cup, would prefer to play New Zealand or South Africa in Japan rather than in their own backyards.

It may also be that the Australians, lacking much by the way of internal competition at provincial level, would like to link up with Japan.

Mind you Japan is less likely to fill Twickenham or Telstra than New Zealand or South Africa!

For New Zealand

Oceania, which is their fiefdom and would be hoping for greater support and protection from New Zealand where so many of their kith and kin have found prosperity, would vote for New Zealand.

Scotland and Wales would appreciate the All Black brand and hope that it will bring the people to their stadiums. But would they not want neutral ground for a World Cup encounter? Perhaps – but perhaps their World Cup sights are set lower. Ireland may just have had a change of heart and moved from the springbok to the silver fern.

Italy may have spun a coin between New Zealand and South Africa, but perhaps, just perhaps, they have had more New Zealanders than South Africans playing for them and coaching them. Italy of all countries may be the hardest to guess.

That would make 8 votes.

For South Africa

Africa would vote for South Africa.

Argentina has historical reasons for voting for South Africa, dating back a century.

France, too, has reasons of history and tradition to vote for South Africa and they perhaps would take FIRA with them.

That would make 5 votes.

That would mean that South Africa would drop out.

The voting would have been 6-8-5. Mind you, it is quite possible that Italy would have voted with South Africa and FIRA with New Zealand.

Dropped out, the South Africans would then have a vote and in this round there would be 21 votes available – 24 minus two New Zealand votes and a Japanese vote.

South Africa had said beforehand that it would vote for New Zealand if it had a second-round say. It was the only country to declare its hand beforehand.

Presumably South Africa and Africa then voted for New Zealand which would take them to the eleven votes that they required.

Even if Italy had not voted for them in the first round they would surely do so now.

Presumably Argentina would go along as they have far greater ties with New Zealand than with Japan and more to hope for from New Zealand than from Japan. That would make 12.

Even if France and FIRA voted for Japan, New Zealand was home and dry – 12-9. If they voted for New Zealand, from whom they have more to gain, then the vote would have been 15-6. 12-9 looks reasonable, possibly 11-10 if Italy thought Japan a good bet.

To get the vote, delegates from the three countries wandered the world. Japan also had the voices of top players, such as Martin Johnson and Nick Farr-Jones, to speak for them. Paid? Possibly!

The delegates probably went with their voting minds made up. If they had not done so and could still be swayed, there were the presentations from the bidding countries to sway them.

Certainly the New Zealand presentation was far and away the best.

Japan relied mainly on film footage of supporters – Nick Shehadie, Nick Farr-Jones, Martin Johnson, Ieuan Evans and Andy Nicol. There were also filmed statements by the former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who is now the President of the JRFU, Yoshiji Nogami, who is the Japanese Ambassador to London, Koji Tokumasu, CEO of the JRFU, and Kazuma Naito, an investment banker and member of the Japanese bid committee.

None of that was likely to affect a change of heart.

Then you could pit New Zealand and South Africa.

* New Zealand's chairman was there – Jock Hobbs, lawyer by training, former New Zealand star and captain.
* South Africa's president was there – Brian van Rooyen, much under attack and investigation at home, certainly not in Hobbs's league.

* New Zealand's prime minister was there – Helen Clark, and she was able to give guarantees of government support and infrastructure upgrading.
* South Africa had the minister of sport – Makhenkesi Stofile, just not in the same league as Helen Clark.

* New Zealand had one of the great rugby legends of all times – Colin Meads with his compelling sincerity.
* South Africa had diplomatic François Pienaar. Probably a draw.

* New Zealand had an impassioned plea form captain Tana Umaga.
* South Africa had Mthobi Tyamzashe, chairman of the bid – not in the same league.

* New Zealand had CEO Chris Moller.
* South Africa had consultant and former CEO, Rian Oberholzer, the man who ran the 1995 World Cup. Another draw perhaps.

That would suggest that waverers would get swept along with New Zealand.

Right throughout their campaign New Zealanders presented a united front. South Africa, until some sort of uneasy silence fell on them, were fighting and snarling at each other and undergoing all sorts of undignified investigations and accusations.
 
Anyway, this is all conjecture.

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