Yesterday’s announcement that France have been awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup has been met with surprise, particularly after South Africa were named as the ‘recommended’ candidate recently, coming out on top on the official scorecard of requirements.
However, in the final vote France received 24 votes to South Africa’s 15. In the first round, France received 18 votes to South Africa’s 13 and Ireland’s eight.
Questions have now been asked as to how this happened, after France hosted the 2007 tournament and Ireland have never even hosted it. More significantly, why was there such a swing in votes despite one candidate looking like the clear winner?
As the candidate unions were not able to vote, there were 39 votes to be won, split up as follows:
- The four remaining Six Nations unions and three remaining SANZAAR unions had 3 votes each
- The six regional associations (Oceania Rugby, Sudamerica Rugby, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Europe, Rugby Africa and Asia Rugby) and the Japan Rugby Football Union had two votes each
- The remaining four votes belonged to Georgian Rugby Union, Rugby Canada, USA Rugby and Federatia Romana de Rugby
- The unions/regional associations cast their votes as they saw fit, including splitting their votes or abstaining
- The entire process has been overseen by independent auditors
- As no candidate won a clear majority (20 votes or more) after the first ballot, the candidate bid with the lowest number of votes dropped out and then a second ballot was called between the remaining two.
“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,” said President of SA Rugby, Mark 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. We cannot hide our desolation but, for the sake of rugby we wish the 2023 tournament hosts every success.”
Scotty Stevenson and Mils Muliaina discuss in their latest The Short Ball podcast. Here is a short excerpt from it, and you can listen to the full episode here.