South Africa has been recommended to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup ahead of Ireland and France, the tournament’s organising board has announced.
The World Rugby Council will meet on 15 November in London for a final vote.
South Africa, who won the 1995 cup as hosts after returning to international sport, were endorsed after reviews of each host candidate evaluation.
Ireland has vowed to “compete to the final whistle”, adding “nothing in the report is insurmountable”.
France were principal hosts in 2007 and, like Ireland, also staged games in the 1991 and 1999 tournaments.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said there were “three exceptional bids”.
He added: “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.”
|What does the board judge potential host nations on?|
|Vision and hosting concept|
|Tournament, organisation and schedule|
|Venues and host cities|
|Finance, commercial and commitments|
From the above criteria, South Africa ranked highest with 78.97%, France second with 75.88% and Ireland third with 72.25%.
However, Dick Spring, chairman of Ireland’s 2023 bid oversight board, said the country still has confidence the council members will “place their trust in Ireland” come the vote.
“We absolutely believe Ireland can secure the tournament for 2023,” he said. “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.
“Our team will compete to the final whistle as we bid to turn our historic bid plans into reality.”
South Africa said it would deliver a “triple win” should it host the tournament in 2023.
“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,” said the country’s rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
Japan will host the next World Cup in 2019.