France has been confirmed as the shock host of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, beating bids from Ireland and South Africa following a vote in London.
Last month the World Cup board recommended South Africa’s bid, but the council voted against that recommendation Wednesday to hand the French a surprise victory.
Voting in London went to a second round with Ireland dropping out following the initial vote, having gained only eight of the 39 votes on offer from the 26 World Rugby council members.
France led after that first round, with 18 votes, and were awarded hosting rights for the tournament after the second as all-but two of Ireland’s votes were transferred to its bid.
Bernard Laporte, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) president, had been critical of the bidding process following the publication of the board’s report but will now oversee a second French World Cup. The European country first hosted the tournament in 2007.
Shock and horror at World Rugby’s announcement at Springboks HQ after France wins the right to host Rugby World Cup in 2023. Video by John Goliath
“Congratulations to France on being elected Rugby World Cup 2023 host. They presented a very strong and comprehensive bid, which clearly resonated with the council today,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.
“We had three outstanding host candidates, who raised the bar and overwhelmingly demonstrated that they were all capable of hosting an exceptional Rugby World Cup. There was very little to choose between the candidates and this was reflected in the independently-audited evaluation report.
“I would like to pay tribute to Ireland and South Africa for their dedication throughout a rigorous, and transparent process and hope that they will bid again. We now look forward to working in partnership with France to deliver what I am sure will be a very successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”
Beaumont has stressed the importance of a “transparent” process following the publication of the board’s much-maligned report.
Tom Hamilton explains why there was plenty of controversy over World Rugby’s decision to award France the 2023 World Cup.
Laporte and France were able to convince the council to vote against that recommendation but the World Rugby chairman denied that the outcome was an embarrassment for him or the governing body.
Beaumont told a media conference: “A humiliation for me? I don’t think so. I don’t think that at all.
“There’s always got to be one recommendation in the evaluation process and that was South Africa. Just because it went to France doesn’t mean there’s humiliation whatsoever.”
The 10th edition of the World Cup will coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of the sport, when William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a game of football at Rugby school.