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Rugby | SA Rugby

SA moves closer to hosting 2023 Rugby World Cup



South Africa moved a step closer to hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Tuesday when it was announced as governing body World Rugby’s preferred candidate for the showpiece tournament.

The announcement came after an intensive selection process where all three countries were examined according to pre-determined criteria, a financial model and the viability to host the tournament, as well as ensuring the revenues needed to continue the development of World Rugby.

In the assessment the South African bid scored the highest at 79, followed by France with 76 and Ireland with 72, making South Africa’s bid technically the strongest and sending out a clear message to the World Rugby member countries that the tournament should be hosted by South Africa.

The last time the tournament took place in South Africa was 1995, which would mean a 28 year absence before the tournament would grace these shores again. The 1995 tournament was one of the best for World Rugby and inspired the entire country, as well as a blockbuster movie as the Springboks won in extra time in an epic final against the All Blacks.

The announcement was a massive achievement for SA Rugby and their bid team, especially as the money was on Ireland to be the favourites to host the tournament, while France poured millions of Euros into their campaign to try and sway the technical committee. SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux and president Mark Alexander have been the driving forces behind the bid when a number of people didn’t give them a chance.

While this isn’t confirmation that the country will host the tournament, it makes it tougher for the member countries to vote against a recommendation by World Rugby that says South Africa is the preferred bid. While politics may play a part, and backroom deals can never be underestimated, South Africa showed its bid is technically the most sound, and as preferred candidate should be able to secure the votes needed to bring the tournament to South Africa.

However, if World Rugby does not back its own preferred and strongest bid, it will mean that questions will be raised about its governance, especially as the bid committee was independent and looked at the facts, and not politics. As shown with recent events at Football’s governing body Fifa, the fallout could be massive if this happens.

What remains now is the vote on 15 November, when the eligible member unions will cast their votes to determine the winner and the tournament will finally be awarded.

The assessment was performed by a team of 10 World Rugby, RWCL relevant-area managers and independent area experts, working since 1 June 2017. They have assessed all three bids with input from functional experts. The London-based Sports Consultancy has scrutinised each managers’ evaluation to ensure all candidates have been treated fairly and the criteria have been consistently applied.

The voting on 15 November is by secret ballot and there are strict guidelines on lobbying. Voting should “take the Evaluation Commission’s recommendation into consideration.”


• None of the three bidding nations are permitted to vote.


• The bid which receives a simple majority of the 39 available votes will be named as the host for Rugby World Cup 2023.


• Those eligible to vote in the secret ballot will be Australia (3 votes), England (3), New Zealand (3), Scotland (3), Wales (3), Italy (3), Argentina (3), Canada (1), Japan (2), Georgia (1), Romania (1), USA (1), Asia Rugby (2), Oceania Rugby (2), Rugby Africa (2), Rugby Americas North (2), Rugby Europe (2), Sudamerica Rugby (2).


• In the event that none of the host candidates receives a simple majority in the first round, the candidate with the least number of votes will drop out before a second ballot.


• The host country will be announced at a media conference immediately after the vote at any time from 3:30pm (SA time), depending on how long the vote takes.

How did we get here?

Applicant phase: June 1 – September 2016

• Designed to ensure that only qualified Unions and countries continue to the second phase.


• Italy withdrew at this stage, leaving only France, Ireland and South Africa.

Candidate phase: November 2016 – 25 September 2017

• Country visit: 13 – 15 March 2017

A senior Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) delegation, including the World Rugby CEO, CFO and RWCL lead visited South Africa. The visit included a day-and-a-half of presentations in Cape Town and a tour of the National Stadium in Johannesburg.

• Bid submission: 1 June 2017

SA Rugby submitted South Africa’s bid to World Rugby in Dublin. The bid, which ran to more than 800 pages and 16 chapters addressed 300 questions. It included a comprehensive budget and a detailed match-venue file providing exhaustive information on each proposed venue.

The Bid Book

• Signed government and match-venue guarantees and hosting agreement: 31 July 2017

Legal guarantees from National Government, all proposed match venues and the hosting agreement between SA Rugby and RWCL were submitted by the deadline.

• Bid presentation: 25 September 2017

The final stage of the candidate phase was a 30-minute presentation to World Rugby Council members, followed by a 20-minute Q&A.

France, Ireland and South Africa each presented their vision for the 2023 tournament and key aspects of the bid.

The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Thulas Nxesi, and SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, introduced the South African bid. SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, presented the technical detail and South Africa’s 10 differentiators. The Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, closed the presentation.

The 12-member presentation party included South Africa’s two Rugby World Cup winning captains, Francois Pienaar and John Smit as well as the Director General of Sports and Recreation South Africa, Mr Alec Moemi.

SA’s 10 point undertaking to World Rugby


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