World Rugby has acknowledged Ireland’s behind-the-scenes challenges to the recommendation that South Africa host the 2023 World Cup.
Ireland’s chief executive Philip Browne is understood to have written to World Rugby for clarification on the independent process that led to South Africa being tipped as the preferred 2023 host.
That has left France and Ireland trailing, ahead of the member unions’ vote on November 15.
But the game’s global governing body World Rugby has issued a statement to reassert their confidence in the bidding process for the 2023 World Cup tournament.
“World Rugby can confirm that it has addressed in full, clarification requests by the Rugby World Cup 2023 host candidates and council members,” read World Rugby’s statement.
“The ability to submit clarification requests following the publication of the recommendation and comprehensive report on 31 October was agreed and permitted within the host selection process operated by World Rugby.
“These clarifications have been addressed with significant supporting detail, and have been shared with the host candidates and World Rugby council.
“The comprehensive and objective responses reflect the transparent principles at the heart of the independently audited process. They do not impact on the detail or outcomes of the evaluation report nor on the subsequent recommendation.”
Ireland host South Africa in Dublin tomorrow, with the political backdrop sure to add to the tension at the Aviva Stadium, at least among the administrators off the field.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont insisted, however, that the governing body had been happy to hear out the concerns of the rival bidders, France, Ireland and South Africa.
“Following the publication of the Rugby World Cup 2023 recommendation and evaluation report, I would like to thank the host candidates for their feedback,” said Beaumont.
“In order for council to have appropriate time to consider all the materials, the window for dialogue is now closed.
“We now look forward to council making its decision in London on November 15.”