Ireland’s hopes of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup have suffered a significant blow. The IRFU have confirmed that South Africa have been recommended by the Board of Rugby World Cup Limited.
Despite noting their disappointment in the decision the Union has vowed to compete to the final minute in its quest to secure the Rugby World Cup for Ireland in 2023.
South Africa received the recommendation to host the tournament, based on the results of the scoring system employed.
The three bids were evaluated against five criteria: 1) Venues and hosting concept. 2) Tournament, organisation and schedule, 3) Venues and host cities, 4) Tournament infrastructure, and 5) Finance, commercial and commitments.
Ireland finished on a score of 72.25% behind France (75.88%) and South Africa (78.97%).
Reacting to the news chairman of Ireland 2023 Bid Oversight Board, Dick Spring said:
"While It is disappointing not to have received the initial recommendation from Rugby World Cup Board Limited, 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.
"On a first reading of the report, It is clear that the Evaluation Commission is impressed by the quality and detail of the bid put forward on behalf of Ireland. It is also clear from the report that Ireland has all the capabilities to host an outstanding Rugby World Cup in 2023 stating as it does …'any of the three candidates could host a successful Rugby World Cup'.
"Ultimately, the decision rests with the Council Members of World Rugby, who are elected by Rugby Unions from across the globe. These are individuals and unions who have reacted positively to our message and vision for the tournament, as we criss-crossed the globe over the past two years. We will again, in the coming weeks, renew our vision to the Council Members – A commercially successful rugby tournament based on rugby's values of integrity and camaraderie, played in full stadia in the hearts of towns and cities.
"Ireland's proposition in this regard is compelling, and so our team will compete to the final whistle as we bid to turn our historic bid plans into reality. We still have confidence that the Council members, who vote on November 15th, will place their trust in Ireland to deliver an outstanding 2023 Rugby World Cup.”
The final decision will be made on November 15th, the World Rugby council members have final say and will take a vote.
South Africa will be confirmed as the host nation provided it secures 20 of 39 votes when the nations that make up the World Rugby Council assemble in London next month.
Today's recommendation is likely to be a defining moment for Ireland's bid with the likelihood of voting members discarding the recommendation very low.