The game on trial
Rugby World body must give the Rugby World Cup to South Africa to preserve credibility
● It has to be South Africa.
If either France or Ireland are today named as hosts of Rugby World Cup 2023, it will be a blow to the integrity of the selection process and, more broadly, rugby governance.
The rectitude of rugby’s leadership will be undermined if any name other than South Africa emerges from an envelope in London. The announcement is expected at 3.15pm. If South Africa — the preferred candidate based on the recommendation by an independent panel of experts after an exhaustive analysis of the bids — does not win‚ finding bidders in future might be difficult.
The Olympics and Football World Cup have been marred by accusations of nefarious bidding processes and rugby has endured similar corridor assertions.
By making the bids transparent and the findings of the evaluation committee public‚ World Rugby has challenged its membership Council to vote based purely on technical merit.
The potential cost of putting on a World Cup is huge‚ as are the benefits.
Because of the complex nature of presenting the third-biggest global sporting event‚ World Rugby has attempted to move away from shadowy deals and last-minute promises.
It is a secret ballot and South Africa has been hurt in these situations before — when they bid for both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup‚ the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 Football World Cup.
France and Ireland have presented strong bids‚ which the evaluation committee acknowledged. But it has recommended that votes go to South Africa‚ which scored 79% to France’s 76% and Ireland’s 73%.
If the process were completely honest‚ South Africa should win all 39 available votes because every council member agreed to the process and to use the outcome of the evaluation process to guide its vote.
But that scenario is unlikely‚ which immediately casts doubt over the entire bidding process yet again.
SA‚ France and Ireland cannot vote and all that SA knows is that they are guaranteed nine votes from their Sanzaar partners.
Indications out of Britain are that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are set to vote against SA and they might take Wales with them.
“If the process were completely honest‚ SA should win all 39 available votes”