France chosen over SA to host 2023 Rugby World Cup

In October South Africa was named as the preferred host nation in October after finishing in top place following a lengthy evaluation process.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - In a surprise move, France has been announced as the host of the Rugby World Cup in 2023, following an announcement by World Rugby in London.

Ireland, South Africa and France were the three nations vying to host the rugby spectacle, with the decision coming as a shock to many South Africans.

South Africa was named as the preferred host nation in October after finishing in top place following a lengthy evaluation process.

The voting process consisted of a total of 39 votes with the winner decided by a simple, clear majority.

Deputy President of Sports Gert Oosthuizen says the country will bounce back.

“We ticked every box, so the expectations were that we’ll get it. However, a process unfolded. We didn’t get it. We’re sports people, we'll rise above the occasion and stand together as a Rainbow Nation.”


SA Rugby said it was “bitterly disappointed” at the decision by the World Rugby Council to overturn a recommendation that South Africa should host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and instead voted for France to host the tournament in a secret ballot.

“We are bitterly disappointed at this decision and would like to apologise to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes,” said Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby.

“We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed today. 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."

Alexander added that after a fourth successive disappointment in the Rugby World Cup bidding process it was difficult to know where South Africa would go from here.

“It will be for the next generation of SA Rugby leaders to decide whether to compete for the 2027 tournament or beyond. I am sure our country will fulfil the dream of hosting the tournament once again someday; our hearts bleed that it will not be in 2023,” he said.


World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont says the 2023 World Cup bidding process was the most transparent in the organisation’s history.

Beaumont says they made the process as open and interactive as possible.

“We feel for the first time that we put the results of our evaluation process out to the public, so everyone would’ve been able to see what were their thoughts and would’ve been able to comment on those well.”


Ireland, which has never hosted the World Cup on its own, was eliminated after the first round when it secured eight of the 39 available votes to the 13 of South Africa and 18 of France. In the second round, France secured 24 votes to South Africa’s 15.

The three bidding countries did not take part in the ballot. The remaining Six Nations and SANZAR countries had three votes each with the rest made up of the six regional associations and smaller rugby countries. A minimum of 20 votes were needed.

South Africa, which staged the tournament in 1995, winning it in their first appearance after missing the first two World Cups because of the apartheid sporting ban, had been the favourite after coming out clearly on top of the evaluation report.

South Africa received an overall score of 78.97% to 75.88 for France and 72.25 for Ireland on a selection of weighted criteria but Council members were free to ignore the report if they wished.

Bernard Laporte, the head of the French union, had publicly complained about many aspects of the evaluation report, saying it was “nonsense and full of errors” and accusing World Rugby of incompetence.

Speaking in London after the announcement, the former national team coach said: ”It was a heavy challenge for us. We were late but I‘m proud that we’ve been chosen.

“Like Ireland and South Africa, we’ve had a bid that was solid. We’ll do our best and I promise it will be a fantastic World Cup, I‘m convinced of that.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: ”We had three great bids. France have hosted the event before and I think it will be an exciting tournament.

“It’s been a long process and we feel that for the first time, we’ve put the results of our evaluation process out to the public and people have been able to comment on them and judge for themselves.”

Japan will host the next World Cup, in 2019.