SOUTH Africa has today been recommended ahead of Ireland and France to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup by the organizing board of the tournament.
The RWC board sat down this morning to weigh up the criteria of each country's bid, before making the decision to nominate South Africa as the most fitting candidate to host the competition in 2023, ahead of the final decision which will be made in London on 15th November.
The decision was made using a new, redesigned, points-based system for the first time. Each country is marked based on various categories of suitability to host the tournament for that particular year, ranging from the distance between stadiums to quality of facilities.
South Africa hosted a largely successful and historic World Cup in 1995, which was depicted in the film Invictus, while France is believed to be as good as ruled out of the competition to host the tournament based on their commitment to hosting the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Were Ireland to win with their bid on the 15th November, it'd be the country's first time hosting the tournament outright, having hosted some games during the 1991 competition alongside England and France.
Bill Beaumont, the World Rugby chairman added: “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 maximise 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 based on performance against the key criteria, which is supported by the Board in the recommendation.”
The announcement almost certainly ends Ireland’s hopes of staging the tournament on its own for the first time but commenting on the news, Dick Spring, the chairman of Ireland’s 2023 bid oversight board, said: “While it is disappointing not to have received the initial recommendation from the Rugby World Cup board, there is nothing in the report which is insurmountable and this is certainly not the end of the road. We absolutely believe Ireland can secure the tournament for 2023."
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne reinforced this belief in an interview with RTE News this afternoon.