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IRFU CEO expresses concerns with South Africa's World Cup bid in strongly-worded letter

Philip Browne criticised a recent evaluation report on how it scored the country under categories such as ‘stadia’ and ‘security’.

Philip Browne (file pic).
Philip Browne (file pic).
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE IRISH RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION (IRFU) Chief Executive Philip Browne has written to World Rugby to underline his reservations with South Africa’s World Cup bid, after the country was recommended in an evaluation report ahead of Ireland and France to host the 2023 competition.

Browne criticised the report on how it scored the country under categories such as ‘stadia’ and ‘security,’ also highlighting the Commonwealth Games’ decision to strip Durban of the rights to host the 2022 event.

“Full stadia for all matches is critically important to the success of the tournament as a live event and for broadcast around the world,” Browne added.

“Whilst certain significant risks were noted in relation to the overall size of match venues in the South African bid, and its ticketing strategy, these do not appear to have been fully reflected in the scoring. There are very clear examples in recent times of starkly empty stadia in South Africa for significant fixtures.”

The letter was sent to World Rugby representatives, including CEO Brett Gosper, in addition to being disclosed to the Irish Times. It can be read in full here.

Browne’s comments come after an independent evaluation report rated Ireland’s bid as inferior to South Africa and France, delivering a blow to the country’s hopes of hosting the competition.

Despite this setback, the IRFU and others have insisted their hopes of hosting the competition are still alive.

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Paul Fennessy

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