World Rugby said that it has already clarified questionings by the Irish and French bids, maintaining its recommendation of South Africa as preferred hosts for the Rugby World Cup 2023.
Furthermore, South Africa sports minister, Thulas Nxesi, has strongly defended his country’s bid to host the World Cup, comparing criticisms with the ones ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Irish and French World Cup questions
Earlier this week, the Irish Rugby Football Union’s (IRFU) chief executive Philip Browne toughly questioned the scores given to South Africa in the areas of ‘Stadia’, ‘Security’, ‘Major event hosting experience’ and ‘Financial, commercial and commitments’.
'Full stadia for all matches is critically important to the success of the tournament as a live event and for broadcast around the world,' wrote Browne to World Rugby.
'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.
Also, this week, the French Rugby Federation President Bernard Laporte accused World Rugby of being ‘nonsense’, ‘incompetent’ and full of ‘blatant errors’.
'We wrote to (World Rugby chairman) Bill Beaumont to point out several blatant errors,' Laporte told Reuters. 'I don't believe in bad faith. I rather think that it's incompetence.'
World Rugby clarifications
As the window for dialogue is now closed until the final vote next Wednesday, World Rugby’s CEO Bill Beaumont said: 'There’s a vote to come and we’ll see what happens with that. But certainly, this is now the third biggest global sporting event on the planet and it does require scale and it does require facilitates that are world-class.
'And in this particular contest you’ve got two countries that very recently have hosted some world-class events beyond Rugby World Cup [EURO 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2010], and have demonstrated and been experienced in deploying their talents around events such as this. It’s a tough competition.'
On Friday, World Rugby released a statement addressing clarification requests by Irish and French bids.
“The ability to submit clarification requests following the publication of the recommendation and comprehensive report on 31 October was agreed and permitted within the host selection process operated by World Rugby,” read the statement.
“These clarifications have been addressed with significant supporting detail, and have been shared with the host candidates and World Rugby Council.
“The comprehensive and objective responses reflect the transparent principles at the heart of the independently audited process. They do not impact on the detail or outcomes of the evaluation report nor on the subsequent recommendation.
Nxesi joins the war of words
South African Sports Minister, Thulas Nxesi, has strongly defended his country’s bid.
“It would be understandable if those sentiments were largely informed by disappointment,” Nxesi said in a statement. “It is our firm conviction that World Rugby has run a rigorous and professional process of unimpeachable integrity.
“Even during the 2010 FIFA World Cup bidding process, our competitors and their fellow detractors had mounted a concerted smear campaign to besmirch and malign South Africa’s bid.
“They alleged that our country was grossly ill-prepared to host such a big event. They further declared our country to be the crime capital of the world. They prophesized impending doom and gloom that would befall the tournament, and to tourists and fans coming to our shores.
“All of the prophecies indeed came to nought. These latter day prophets and naysayers will again be proven wrong.”
The World Rugby Council will meet on Wednesday (15 November) to vote to choose the host of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.