South Africa recommended as host for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Reuters
Ireland's joint Republic and Northern Irish bid had been the bookmakers' favorite having never been the main host before while France was the outsider having staged it in 2007.
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South African rugby captain Francios Pienaar raises the trophy after receiving it from South African President Nelson Mandela (left), wearing a South African rugby shirt, after the Springboks defeated New Zealand 15-12 in the final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, in this June 24, 1995, photo. South Africa has been recommended as the best host for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, ahead of France and Ireland.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup is set to be held in South Africa after the Board of the sport's governing body recommended the country's bid ahead of Ireland and France on Tuesday but both losing nations vowed to fight on.

World Rugby's Council could still opt for any of the three bids when it votes on November 15 but is expected to rubber-stamp the recommendation and some unions, including New Zealand, have indicated that they will follow the Board's choice.

Japan will host the next tournament in 2019, the first in Asia.

Ireland's joint Republic and Northern Irish bid had been the bookmakers' favorite having never been the main host before while France was the outsider having staged the tournament in 2007.

Both, however, were outscored in the evaluation report where South Africa received an overall score of 78.97 percent to 75.88 for France and 72.25 for Ireland on a selection of weighted criteria.

South Africa hosted the 1995 World Cup against an extraordinary emotional, social and political backdrop after the country had missed the first two tournaments due to the sporting ban over apartheid.

The sight of Nelson Mandela in a Springbok shirt presenting the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar as South Africa triumphed on home soil is probably the most iconic image in the tournament's history.

But though unashamedly using that tournament to strengthen its bid, South Africa scored well across much more prosaic issues such as transport, technology and match venues, with the availability of stadiums built for the 2010 soccer World Cup a major plus.

"We told the World Rugby Council that we would deliver a triple win tournament — a win for the game with record receipts; a win for the fans with an unforgettable tournament in a bucket-list destination and, most importantly, a win for the players with the most athlete-centric event in the tournament’s history," SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said.

Greater transparency

World Rugby and Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement: "This is the first Rugby World Cup host selection to take place following a complete redesign of the bidding process to promote greater transparency and maximize World Rugby's hosting objectives.

"The comprehensive and independently scrutinized evaluation reaffirmed that we have three exceptional bids but it also identified South Africa as a clear leader."

The Irish finished last in all but one of the five main criteria and lost out badly on transport and information technology.

Amid the 220-page report, the following criticism of the Irish bid's technology plans stood out.

"The amount of upgrade work required introduces complexity and therefore a significant risk factor that is not inherent in the other two bids," it said.

They have not given up yet, however.

"While it is disappointing not to have received the initial recommendation there is nothing in the report which is insurmountable and this is certainly not the end of the road," Dick Spring, Ireland's bid committee chairman, said.

France also believe it is still in the race with South Africa.

"As of today, a final is taking shape in which France and South Africa will go head to head," said Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR.

"France was placed in top position on the main criterion: the financial offer and the guarantees.

"In this final straight, we are more mobilized and determined than ever to convince the voting federations that France is the best choice."

The three bidding countries will not take part in the November 15 vote. The remaining SANZAR and Six Nations unions will have three votes each of a total of 39, with the rest made up from the six regional associations and smaller rugby countries.

A minimum of 20 votes will be needed to secure the hosting rights.

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