LONDON: France and not South Africa will stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup after a meeting of governing body World Rugby in London.

South Africa had been expected to win the vote after being recommended as the best option by a review committee. However, after complaints about the manner of the review system, France won in the second round of voting, with 24 votes compared with 15 for South Africa.

Ireland, which staged matches in 1991 and 1999, was eliminated after getting eight of the 39 votes in the first round – France picked up 18 and South Africa 13.

South Africa hosted the World Cup in 1995, when the Springboks beat New Zealand 15-12 in the final. France last staged the tournament in 2007 and had been thought to be a doubt because of a staging clash with the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont described the selection process as the “most transparent and comprehensive” in the organisation’s history.

He said: “I am delighted for France. They have run a World Cup before and I think it will be an exciting World Cup. We feel for the first time that within World Rugby we have put the results of our evaluation out to the general public.”

Last month, South Africa had ranked highest in the independent review after the three bids were judged on five categories…

  • vision and hosting concept
  • tournament organisation and schedule
  • venues and host cities
  • tournament infrastructure
  • finance, commercial and commitments

Bernard Laporte, president of the French rugby federation, said: “This World Cup is for all of French rugby. The economic impact will be for them. With the reforms that we have committed, we needed this World Cup.”

Japan will host the next World Cup in 2019.

Mark Alexander, president of the South African Rugby Board, said they were “bitterly disappointed” at the decision, but would not appeal against the verdict.

He added: “We would like to apologise to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes. We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed.

“We produced a compelling bid document that earned the unanimous recommendation of the Rugby World Cup Ltd board. That recommendation was questioned last week by rivals, but endorsed a second time by World Rugby last week.

“However, the view of the experts and World Rugby’s leadership was overturned by World Rugby Council members, who may have had other factors to take into account.

“We cannot hide our desolation but, for the sake of rugby we wish the 2023 tournament hosts every success.”


Rugby World Cup hosts
1987: Australia and New Zealand
1991: England (main hosts), Wales, France, Ireland and Scotland
1995: South Africa
1999: Wales (main hosts), England, Scotland, Ireland, France
2003: Australia
2007: France
2011: New Zealand
2015: England
2019: Japan