Wednesday’s decision to award the hosting of the 2023 Rugby World Cup to France has implications for the future hosting of the event.
The decision was a surprise after World Rugby’s technical report had stated South Africa had the best bid.
France and, to a lesser extent, Ireland, contested that view since the technical report’s release, and in the end it was the statement that France would pay a surplus of 350 million pounds to World Rugby to stage the event that swung the vote.
By comparison, England produced 162 million pounds for the 2015 event while Ireland and South Africa believed they would produce 270 million pounds.
Scotland demonstrated an example of the consequences of the decision. They supported Ireland initially but, finally, went with France and would be four million pounds better off as a result.
France hosted the event in 2007 with assistance from Wales and Scotland but will go it alone this time.
South African reaction has been predictable, especially after the positive vibe they received in the earlier announcement. However, it was disappointing to hear 1995 Springbok Chester Williams say that South Africa was divided at the moment and the World Cup would have been a chance to unite the country as it had in 1995.
South Africa in 1995 was a vastly different prospect to today, and will be different again by 2023. The mana of Nelson Mandela that shone at the 1995 tournament is missing and it will take more than an international sports contest to unite the country. But at least South Africa, if able to put its house in order, will have other chances.
The real victim in this vote is Ireland, and other smaller countries around the world – three-time winner New Zealand included.
There can be no doubt Ireland would have given fresh appeal to a World Cup and not having staged it before, in its own right, it would have been an attractive destination for fans.
It has also been stated that joint staging of the event is not favoured which means that Australia may still be an option in the Pacific region but New Zealand is much less likely.
Regrettably, but predictably, money has ruled the day and given the censure World Rugby placed on French rugby boss Bernard Laporte for his criticism of the technical report, the outcome of the vote is yet another slap in the face for the world body and its plans for the overall betterment of the game.