It was a shock outcome and upset for South Africa, after France was named as host of the 2023 Rugby World Cup after a meeting of the World Rugby Council in London.
South Africa had been named the clear leader after an exhaustive independent evaluation process; however the country lost to its European counterparts after two rounds of voting.
There were cheers from the French delegation and polite applause from the country which had expected to win… having been described as the clear leader following a 10 month independent evaluation process.
For the team it was a bitter disappointment, however the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had led the delegation was gracious in defeat, offering his congratulations to France.
“We wish them well and hope they will organize a well-run and managed Rugby World Cup and for us we obviously are not very pleased but because this is really a sport there must be a winner and there must be losers and we didn’t do that well. However we put up a very good fight, our bid was a very well put together bid and I want to congratulate our Rugby board as having done a fantastic job.”
South Africa’s rugby officials looked stunned as they faced the media as it continued to sink in that despite South Africa’s bid being described as having 8 world class venues and coming top in 3 out of 5 categories the vote had gone against them.
“We also would just like to apologize for raising the expectations of our public back home. You know, our public, we had crowds and crowds of people meeting in different parts of the country watching this live and it must have been very disappointing for them and we would like to apologize to them,” says President of SA Rugby Mark Alexander.
Despite congratulating France, Mr Alexander said he did not know how the bidding process had gone awry.
“For 15 months it was a transparent robust process and then in the last two weeks it became opaque and we don’t know what happened in the meeting.”
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said he was satisfied the selection process had been transparent and comprehensive, despite the vote going against the recommendation, something he said he could not explain.
“Well I can’t because it’s up to each individual country that, they made their own decisions, we made a recommendation and from South Africa’s point of view they’ll be disappointed – they chose to ignore that recommendation and go with France.”
A tense wait here in London has ended with a surprise upset for the South Africans and the news they did not want to hear.
France will host the 2023 rugby World Cup.