Ireland's prospects of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday.
With the release of a report charting the suitability of the three potential host nations, the Irish bid was deemed the least suitable.
While the actual destination of the tournament has not yet been decided (the decision will be announced on November 15th), it has since become clear that France, the nation whose bid was deemed less preferable than the outstanding candidate, South Africa, have grown aggrieved with the entire process.
As reported in the Irish Times, Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation, has launched a tirade against World Rugby, accusing them of 'lies', 'negligence' and 'amateurism'.
He also called into question their impartiality in devising the independent review in the first place:
What bothers me, primarily, is that the process was misguided, flawed. World Rugby told us that two external and independent companies would be mandated to conduct the audit.
There was only one, and they ignored some aspects.
In the end, 80% of the report was made by World Rugby employees. I do not like being lied to!
Citing a letter he then sent to Bill Beaumont (Chairman of World Rugby) seeking an explanation for this anomaly, Laporte stated that 'the Irish did the same. They started the protest by sending a letter before ours.'
In attempting to quell any concerns, World Rugby has today released a statement in response to Laporte's considerable accusations.
Stating that Laporte's publicised comments 'are both unfounded and inaccurate' (although Laporte is not mentioned by name), they reaffirmed the validity of the independent report:
World Rugby has implemented a transparent, objective, professional and robust host selection process.
The comprehensive technical evaluation has been undertaken by a team of World Rugby and third-party experts, independently scrutinised by The Sports Consultancy against agreed scoring criteria.
While World Rugby will undoubtedly wish to restrict any further discussion from such public forums, they have assured that they 'will be raising our concerns on this matter with the Fédération Française de Rugby'.
Although his approach may be deemed unhelpful (and tone rather entitled), Laporte's concerns do appear valid:
How can World Rugby say that hotels in the most visited county in the world are worse than those in South Africa?
How can it be said that they are not enough hotels in Saint-Étienne which, for the record, hosted European Championship football matches 18 months ago?
How can they dare to say that France is not able to better organise international sports events than South Africa?
They make fun of us there!
With South Africa the outstanding favourite with many bookmakers to be awarded the tournament in 11 days time, one suspects we have not heard the last of this disgruntlement.