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Ireland's 2023 World Cup bid receives major boost as Italy pull out of the running

And then there was three.

THE ITALIAN RUGBY Federation has this evening announced it has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, leaving Ireland, France and South Africa vying to stage the tournament.

The decision to pull out of the running was made following consultation meetings with the Italian Olympic Committee, who are fighting to keep Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games alive.

“While it is disappointing that the FIR feels unable to proceed, World Rugby fully understands the decision and hopes to see Italy join the process for future Rugby World Cup hosting,” a World Rugby statement said.

Earlier this month, World Rugby confirmed the four candidates hoping to stage the tenth edition of its flagship event but with Italy ending their interest, just three nations remain in the bidding war.

The bids of Ireland, France and South Africa are currently being assessed with World Rugby expected to announce if they have met the criteria on 1 November. The winner will then be named in November 2017.

This evening’s news comes as a major boost to the IRFU’s bid, which was launched back in December 2014 with the backing of Governments on both sides of the border.

Ireland has previously hosted World Cup games in 1991 and 1999 but has never won the right to stage the tournament outright.

France played host to the World Cup back in 2007 while South Africa face Government opposition if they are to win the process.

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There is currently a government ban on the country staging international events because of the failure to meet two of 13 racial transformation targets. Rugby was not alone in being banned for bidding for events as cricket, netball and athletics also failed their criteria.

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