Representatives of SA Rugby apologized to the people and government of South Africa after the World Rugby Council awarded France the rights to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Wednesday.
Despite finishing behind South Africa in World Rugby’s evaluation report, France defeated the 1995 hosts by 24 votes to 15.
Ireland, who also arranged a bid and is yet to host a Rugby World Cup, dropped out of the running after achieving only eight votes in the first round.
This will be the second time that France has staged a Rugby World Cup, having previously hosted the 2007 edition.
SA Rugby: “We did everything in our power”
The failed candidacy represents a fourth successive disappointment in the Rugby World Cup bidding for South Africa.
Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, expressed his disillusionment in a Twitter post.
“We are bitterly disappointed at this decision and would like to apologize to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes‚” tweeted Alexander.
“We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed today.”
The World Rugby Council decision came as a shock to many, considering last month’s evaluation report.
“That recommendation was questioned last week by rivals‚ but endorsed a second time by World Rugby last week,” said Alexander.
“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.”
Jurie Roux, chief executive of SA Rugby, declared that the organization has no intention of challenging the vote.
“We have said throughout that we would honour both the letter and the spirit of the process and we now consider the 2023 bidding process closed,” he said.
Beaumont defends Council’s decision
Immediately after the result was announced, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont defended World Rugby Council’s decision.
“Congratulations to France on being elected Rugby World Cup 2023 host. They presented a very strong and comprehensive bid, which clearly resonated with the council today.
“We had three outstanding host candidates, who raised the bar and overwhelmingly demonstrated that they were all capable of hosting an exceptional Rugby World Cup. There was very little to choose between the candidates and this was reflected in the independently-audited evaluation report.
“I would like to pay tribute to Ireland and South Africa for their dedication throughout a rigorous and transparent process and hope that they will bid again. We now look forward to working in partnership with France to deliver what I am sure will be a very successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”
South Africa letdown
Several South African rugby personalities expressed their anger and disappointment at the Council’s decision.
Former Springbok wing Bryan Habana took his displeasure to Twitter, but also congratulated France.
John Smit, South Africa’s 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning captain, said that the decision was “devastating”.
SuperSport rugby editor Brendan Nel criticized the decision to hand France a second World Cup in ten years.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be the tenth RWC and it will take place in the year of the 200th anniversary of the invention of the sport by William Webb Ellis.