SA’S MO­MENT TRUTH OF

AN­NOUNCE­MENT: EX­PECTED THIS AF­TER­NOON

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ire­land, France hop­ing lob­by­ing will swing vote in their favour.

Ire­land and France are hop­ing their late be­hind-thescenes lob­by­ing will have done enough for one of them to over­haul South Africa when the de­ci­sion on who will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is an­nounced to­day.

World Rugby’s Coun­cil will name the host na­tion in Lon­don this af­ter­noon, with South Africa the odds-on favourites af­ter be­ing rec­om­mended by the board’s eval­u­a­tion re­port last month.

The coun­cil could still opt for any of the three bids in to­day’s se­cret bal­lot, with 20 of the avail­able 39 votes needed, but is widely ex­pected to rub­ber-stamp the rec­om­men­da­tion.

Most unions have de­clined to make pub­lic their in­ten­tions, though New Zealand’s CEO Steve Tew has said it would be “very hard not to vote the way of the rec­om­men­da­tion”.

The eval­u­a­tion re­port gave South Africa an over­all score of 78.97% to 75.88 for France and 72.25 for Ire­land on a se­lec­tion of weighted cri­te­ria.

For the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, the coun­cil vot­ing fol­lowed the Rugby World Cup board’s rec­om­men­da­tion that England and Ja­pan host the tour­na­ments.

Ire­land and France, how­ever, are not giv­ing up and have pub­licly taken is­sue with crit­i­cisms of their bids – ac­tions that were also a breach of the bid­ding pro­to­col.

French fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Bernard La­porte de­scribed the eval­u­a­tion re­port as “non­sense”, full of bla­tant er­rors and a re­sult of in­com­pe­tence. Ire­land said they were sur­prised by the find­ings and vowed to com­pete un­til the end to host the event.

Ire­land bid chair­man Dick Spring also sent a let­ter to coun­cil mem­bers com­plain­ing that the scor­ing sys­tem re­warded France and South Africa’s prior his­tory of host­ing ma­jor events.

In re­sponse, World Rugby said the process had been sup­ported by host can­di­dates, the Rugby World Cup board and coun­cil through­out. Af­ter mak­ing much of the fact that the eval­u­a­tion process was “to­tally trans­par­ent” – the fi­nal de­ci­sion will be made by a se­cret bal­lot.

None of the host can­di­dates will be in­volved, leav­ing 39 votes up for grabs.

The re­main­ing Six Na­tions unions, as well as New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina, have three votes each, while the six re­gional as­so­ci­a­tions plus Ja­pan have two votes apiece. The out­stand­ing four votes be­long to Ge­or­gia, Canada, the US and Ro­ma­nia.

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