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As Ireland and France pick holes, World Rugby boss says 2023 report 'stands up to any scrutiny'

“There’s a vote to come and we’ll see what happens with that.”

Gosper and Spring: Ireland's bid team have aired their criticisms.
Gosper and Spring: Ireland's bid team have aired their criticisms.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WORLD RUGBY CEO Brett Gosper has defended the 2023 Rugby World Cup bidding review process as “robust and fair” following criticism from Ireland and France.

Last month, the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) board unanimously recommended South Africa to host the tournament, with RWCL chairman Bill Beaumont saying the nation was the “clear leader”, and a final decision will be made via a World Rugby Council members’ vote later this month.

However, the review has drawn heavy criticism with Ireland’s World Cup bid chairman Dick Spring stating there was a “skewed basis” scoring system, while France Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte labelled the report “laughable”.

In a strongly-worded letter, details of which were released on Wednesday, IRFU chief Philip Browne raised a number of queries about how the respective bids had been judged.

But Gosper defended the process, telling Sky Sports: “We don’t look at it in terms of small or big.

“We look at it in terms of who is presenting a magnificent facility infrastructure and everything that goes around making a World Cup a success.

“There’s a vote to come and we’ll see what happens with that. But certainly this is now the third biggest global sporting event on the planet and it does require scale and it does require facilitates that are world-class.

“And in this particular contest you’ve got two countries that very recently have hosted some world-class events beyond Rugby World Cup [Euro 2016 and Fifa World Cup 2010], and have demonstrated and been experienced in deploying their talents around events such as this.

“It’s disappointing that there have been some comments made that we don’t believe are accurate and reflect the accuracy of our report.

“We have official channels which they are using to ask us on every element of our report – why they scored it a certain way, were there errors, were there issues – and we’re in the process of answering those questions.

“But we’re very confident that our process actually is robust and stands up to any scrutiny.”

On Laporte’s comments, he added: “We were not surprised by the reaction, the disappointment, the emotion.

“Yes, I think some of the language was a bit excessive and we’d refute all of those allegations as being the most professional selection process not just for Rugby World Cup but probably for every tournament in the world.

“The transparency of it, the thoroughness of it, the professionalism of it, the use of third-party experts, the use of third-party people overseeing that the process was extremely fair is unprecedented, so no.

“Bernard Laporte has his point of view and we understand the disappointment, as indeed Ireland have demonstrated theirs as well.”

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