A war of words will come to a close on Wednesday afternoon when the host nation is announced for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with South African officials having stood their ground against a barrage of criticism levelled by their opposition.
Following an announcement from World Rugby last month, which backed South Africa based on the findings of a bid evaluation committee, the global body’s council had been urged to vote in SA’s favour in what was touted as a more transparent bidding process.
However, the final decision would rest with World Rugby council members who were set to vote at a meeting in London.
How they will vote
World Rugby council members will have 39 votes in the secret ballot.
The three candidate nations will not receive a vote. The host nation will be decided by a majority vote
If there is a tie, the decision will go to a second vote
Who holds the votes?
Australia (3 votes), England (3), New Zealand (3), Scotland (3), Wales (3), Italy (3), Argentina (3), Japan (2), Asia Rugby (2), Oceania Rugby (2), Rugby Africa (2), Rugby Americas North (2), Rugby Europe (2), Sudamerica Rugby (2), Canada (1), Georgia (1), Romania (1), US (1).
Still eager to host the spectacle, France and Ireland had both launched campaigns in an effort to rope in support, insisting there were concerns with the committee’s findings, which listed South Africa as outright favourites.
Bernard Laporte, president of the French rugby federation, had gone so far as to write to World Rugby president Bill Beaumont in an attempt to have the results of the committee’s report adjusted.
He claimed the French could offer better accommodation and stadia infrastructure, while raising security concerns in SA.
“There are six points where we have been placed behind South Africa, two of which are not possible,” Laporte told AFP.
Philip Browne, chief executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union, had written to World Rugby chief Brett Gosper, requesting that all council members receive assurance that they would be allowed to vote for any of the three candidates.
Browne also criticised SA’s recent failure to commit to the 2022 Commonwealth Games after Durban won the bid.
The Games bid committee had been led by SA Rugby Union (Saru) president Mark Alexander.
Despite the criticism, South Africa remained in the driving seat this week, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa returning to London to lead the South African delegation, which also included sports minister Thulas Nxesi and Alexander.
The announcement is expected to be made at around 3pm.