France Victorious in Bid to Host 2023 Rugby World Cup

France win 2023 bid

News that France had been victorious in the results of a ballot vote by World Rugby council members, came as a surprise to many. The process had been presumed to follow the official recommendation of South Africa–but that was upended by the French delegation, as now they will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

With the outcome announced by World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, there was a mixed reaction of applause and amazement, as the secret ballot results came in. Surprise by media, whom had forecast that the South African rugby delegation would again be toasting the rainbow nation.

But, as the 2023 Rugby World Cup host country name was called out, the French representatives (see main picture) celebrated with hugs and handshakes. The other delegations looked on bemused, as cameras captured the reaction.

France Victorious in Bid to Host 2023 Rugby World Cup

After the months and rounds of presentations and lobbying, World Rugby announced on November 1st that South Africa had been recommended as the host (from the extensive evaluation report).

That seemed to indicate which bid was the strongest on paper but, today’s final voting seems to go against those recommendations. And this has generated much speculation on the process, and on the final efforts by France to sway votes in their favour.

France and Ireland both launched aggressive campaigns in the last two weeks, and have for sometime had ‘France 2023’ branded across every teams uniform; Men’s and Women’s Six Nations, Sevens and Under 20 Championship sides. During the test match against New Zealand, the branding was clearly still on show – and ultimately, on course.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a press release, “Congratulations to France on being elected 2023 Rugby World Cup host. They presented a very strong and comprehensive bid, which clearly resonated with the Council today.”

Chairman of World Rugby, Bill Beaumont speaks during the Rugby World Cup 2023 Host Decision in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Secret Ballot the Fairest Method, says World Rugby Chairman

France received 24 votes to South Africa’s 15 in the final round of voting. In the primary round of voting, France received 18 votes to South Africa’s 13 and Ireland’s eight. [Ireland were then omitted from the second round].

While the 139 page report independently judged all bids against measured criteria, this result has placed doubt on the new process. In a press conference, Beaumont dismissed any indication of a humiliating result.

“Just because it went to France, that doesn’t mean there’s humiliation whatsoever. I think it was a very fair process and a transparent process. Countries will have disagreed with the scoring and that is obvious. You can’t blame them for that”, was the comment from Beaumont when pushed on whether the vote rebuffed World Rugby’s recommendation.

The members weren’t bound to vote in accordance with the recommendation but all had agreed to the new process, having expressed concerns that the horse trading associated with previous World Cup hosting bids had to stop.

Disappointment from Fellow Bidding Nations Only Natural

“I would like to pay tribute to Ireland and South Africa for their dedication throughout a rigorous, and transparent process and hope that they will bid again”, said Bill Beaumont.

“We now look forward to working in partnership with France to deliver what I am sure will be a very successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

Following today’s vote, France will be hosting rugby’s showcase men’s event for the second time. Hosting the 10th edition of the event 200 years after William Webb Ellis gave birth to the sport.


“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images