SA now the front-runner to host Rugby World Cup 2023

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"Those behind Irelands bid have said they will continue to lobby right up until the World Rugby Council makes it final decision in London on the 15th November and we wish them well in their efforts".

Cape Town - While it will not be made official until November 15, South Africa look nearly certain to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after having received an official recommendation from World Rugby on Tuesday.

According to the report card that World Rugby has issued after its independent examination of the bids, South Africa outshone its competitors in the categories of "venues and host cities" and "tournament infrastructure".

Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby and the Rugby World Cup, said: "The comprehensive and independently scrutinised evaluation reaffirmed that we have three exceptional bids but it also identified South Africa as a clear leader based on performance against the key criteria, which is supported by the board in the recommendation".

Also, the fact that South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup means that the country has at least eight all-seater modern stadiums to host the Rugby World Cup.

Ramaphosa was a crucial addition to the South African bid committee that traveled to London last month to present its case, and both SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux and president Mark Alexander spoke on Tuesday about how important that move had been on South Africa's part.

"We are 100 percent confident that the commitments we made in our document will be delivered".

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South Africa hosted the 1995 World Cup against an extraordinary emotional, social and political backdrop after the country had missed the first two tournaments due to the sporting ban over apartheid.

Ireland had been the bookmakers' favourites having never been the main host before while France were the outsiders having staged the tournament in 2007. "There is nothing in the report which is insurmountable and this is certainly not the end of the road".

"We absolutely believe Ireland can secure the tournament for 2023", he said.

Despite their readmission in 1992 to worldwide rugby, after years of apartheid-enforced sporting isolation, South Africa used home advantage so well that the debutants reached the World Cup final in 1995.

"There was a moment of jaw-dropping disbelief, a sharp collective intake of breath, and suddenly the crowd broke into a chant, which grew steadily louder, of 'Nelson!"

The council members who will vote on the host are free to ignore today's endorsement with the result being announced on November 15th. The next World Cup, in 2019, will be in Japan.

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