Ireland's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup has run aground: gazumped by the superior financial power and infrastructure of South Africa. Following a lengthy technical review, World Rugby have endorsed South Africa as hosts for the tournament, with France rated as the next best bid. While this is not a binding report ahead of the vote on November 15th, it would be a major surprise if the vote deviated from the recommendations made today.
The Guardian summed it up for Ireland in deeming that the report's conclusion "almost certainly ends Ireland’s hopes of staging the tournament on its own for the first time".
While Ireland's disappointment is fresh, The Telegraph's Mick Cleary argues that nobody should complain at the outcome, citing the 1995 tournament in South Africa:
No-one should cavil at the outcome. No-one should cry foul at the process. And, with vivid memories of the 1995 World Cup held in that country still burning within many of us, no-one should look forward to the tournament being staged there in six years’ time with anything but relish. South Africa is a richly diverse and welcoming country, not without its issues, but who might chose to throw stones in that regard these days.
(This is a day after the same writer hoped that it would go to Ireland).
In South Africa, SA Rugby Mag quote Springbok Rugby CEO Jurie Roux who assures the world that Ireland and France can do nothing to change the outcome across the following fortnight:
They can’t add any more information, and they can’t do any further presentations,’ the SA Rugby CEO said. ‘We are confident that the process will be followed up to 15 November, and that nothing untoward will take place.
The same outlet hails today's decision as the good news story the nation has been waiting for:
World Rugby's decision to select South Africa as its preferred host for the 2023 World Cup is the good-news story South African sport has been desperately crying out for.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that South Africa's bid had come up trumps after an extensive evaluation process, with France's bid coming second and highly-favoured Ireland ultimately ending up third.
It's widely expected that the final decision to be made on 15 November will be a mere formality, with this serving as the final step before South Africa can begin celebrating.
We turn now to our old friends at the NZ Herald where they have kindly commissioned a piece entitled "Why Ireland Should Host The World Cup". Here's an excerpt:
But Ireland surely deserves it (for the first time) for the sheer enthusiasm the country would provide - much like New Zealand in 2011. New Zealand's tournament couldn't compete financially with bigger countries but the whole population got behind it and the same would surely apply with Ireland, which has indicated that pool matches, a quarter-final, and the final would be held at Dublin's Croke Park, a gaelic football stronghold where rugby is very rarely played.
New Zealand 2011 wasn't expected to be a big money spinner, but in fact before England 2015 it was the second most profitable behind France 2007.
Ireland could also surpass expectations. Insiders say the country just needed the confidence to go for it and have been amazed at how it has galvanised and united the country.
France, in theory, might make money but it won't have the emotional impact of Ireland's 12 hosting centres and the Emerald Isle as a whole.
Online, a raft of notable personalities reacted with disappointment to this crushing blow to Irish hopes:
Would love you to win it. One of my favourite places in the world. https://t.co/0WBPluNuCV
— Jonathan Davies OBE (@JiffyRugby) October 31, 2017
No rugby World Cup for @Ireland [email protected]
— Peter Clohessy (@PeterClohessy) October 31, 2017
I do love South Africa. But a rugby World Cup in Ireland would be nothing short of immense #RWC2023 🎃
— Jim Hamilton (@jimhamilton4) October 31, 2017
Not exactly great https://t.co/Q3MUjriiic
— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) October 31, 2017
#RWC2023 bid failure is going to be a shock to the many people in Ireland who assumed it was a done deal. Hubris? Real pity, all the same.
— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) October 31, 2017
Disappointed at this decision. Hoped Ireland would get the nod. https://t.co/4QinkrVuO8
— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) October 31, 2017
It is. But no point having this lengthy process if it is to be overturned
Would be a real blow for the game https://t.co/r7MPT7ge2O
— Mick Cleary (@MickClearyTel) October 31, 2017
To clarify; RWC 2023 bids will go to World Rugby vote on Nov 15, but if they don’t ratify auditors’ verdict, they will discredit the sport.
— Chris Foy (@FoyChris) October 31, 2017