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France named as host of the Rugby World Cup in 2023

An independent review by World Rugby had named South Africa as its preferred bidder.

Bill Beaumont, the World Rugby chairman pictured earlier this month with the Webb Ellis Cup.
Bill Beaumont, the World Rugby chairman pictured earlier this month with the Webb Ellis Cup. PA

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has denied being humiliated after France was named hosts of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and not the governing body's recommendation.

South Africa was named as the preferred host nation by World Rugby's independent review two weeks ago.

However, following a ballot in London today, France was declared host of the tournament.

A simple majority from the 39 votes was required and France claimed 18 votes to South Africa's 13 in the first round of voting. Ireland had eight votes and was eliminated.

The second round saw France claim 24 votes to South Africa's 15 to be named hosts for a second time, after 2007.

Beaumont had emphasised the "transparent selection process" before announcing the host, when World Rugby's member nations went against the recommendation.

French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte (centre left) after surprise announcement in London.
French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte (centre left) after surprise announcement in London. PA

Beaumont said he would follow the recommendation, but insisted the move was not embarrassing for the sport's world governing body.

"A humiliation for me? I don't think so. I don't think that at all," Beaumont told a media conference.

"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.

"If you look, there wasn't a great deal between France and South Africa in the evaluation report. It was very close.

"We feel the process has been absolutely transparent. Everyone's been able to see how the scoring was."

The 10th edition of the tournament coincides 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.

France 2023 bid team members during the 2023 Rugby World Cup host union announcement.
France 2023 bid team members during the 2023 Rugby World Cup host union announcement. PA

The 2023 tournament follows the 2019 edition, which takes place in Japan.

England hosted the most recent tournament, in 2015, when New Zealand won a second successive title after victory on home soil in 2011.

South Africa Rugby expressed disappointment over the decision and said the process became "opaque" following the independent report.

A statement on SA Rugby's official Twitter account read: "SA Rugby said it was 'bitterly disappointed' at the decision by the World Rugby Council to overturn a recommendation that South Africa should host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and instead voted for France to host the tournament in a secret ballot."

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux added: "World Rugby ran exhaustive, transparent process for 15 months to identify best host nation, only for the process to go entirely opaque for past two weeks. The view of the experts and World Rugby's leadership was overturned by World Rugby council members."

Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne was magnanimous in defeat.

"It's not to be, our race is now run and today belongs to France. They have our warmest congratulations," he said.

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