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Blow for Ireland as report recommends South Africa for 2023 Rugby World Cup

The Springboks look set to be on home turf for a World Cup for the first time since 1995, but a vote on 15 November will determine the final outcome.

SOUTH AFRICA ARE in pole position to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after an independent bid evaluation report rated their bid the best on offer to World Rugby.

With ‘transparency’ an ongoing theme for the governing body, World Rugby published the findings of the technical review group today, and its conclusions come as a major blow to Ireland’s hopes of winning hosting rights.

Rugby Union - World Cup South Africa 95 - Final - South Africa v New Zealand - Ellis Park, johannesburg Nelson Mandela congratulates Francois Pienaar after the Springboks won the 1995 World Cup in Johannesburg. Source: EMPICS Sport

The final decision on whether Ireland, France or South Africa will be the destination of the 2023 tournament will be made by a World Rugby Council vote in London on 15 November. However, after employing a team to evaluate bids against criteria ‘to reflect World Rugby’s key objectives’ the next logical step is for the council to back the findings of its technical review group.

The review group placed Ireland’s offering third in its weighted scoring system, with comparisons between infrastructure and host cities particularly damaging.

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South Africa famously won on home turf when they last hosted the tournament in 1995. Ireland have never hosted a Rugby World Cup, but have hosted matches in 1991 and 1999.

Ireland’s bid is a cross-border venture with Belfast venues Kingspan Stadium, Casement Park and Derry’s Celtic Park on the proposed list of venues alongside the likes of Aviva Stadium, Croke Park and Thomond Park.

While the idea of Ireland vying to host the tournament, estimated to be worth at least €800 million to the economy, has been a popular one since it was officially launched in 2013, it has not been without its hurdles. Notably, a change in legislation was required this year to allow the state acquire shares in the Rugby World Cup company to effectively underwrite the finance for the tournament.

General view of Croke Park Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Irish bid is prepared to pay €136 (£120) million as the minimum tournament hosting fee and has attempted to signal the tapping of the American market to bridge the difference to the €181m on offer up front from South Africa and the €170m put forward by France.

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