world rugby brett gosper

World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper. (Photo: Gallo)

2023 Rugby World Cup: World Rugby boss defends evaluation process

Gosper clears up the air ahead of November 15.

world rugby brett gosper

World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper. (Photo: Gallo)

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has come out in defence of the selection process for the 2023 Rugby World Cup which resulted in South Africa coming out as the highest rated of the three bidders competing for the rights to host the showpiece.

The sport’s governing body has come under heavy criticism across the board since announcing that South Africa was Rugby World Cup Limited’s (RWCL) preferred candidate to host the tournament, beating bids from France and Ireland.

Both countries’ rugby chiefs have forwarded their complaints over the evaluation in writing to Gosper, with IRFU CEO Philip Brown urging that members of the council set to vote on Wednesday, November 15 be reminded that they are allowed to vote for whichever bid, despite the recommendation.

Speaking on SkySports, Gosper said rugby has grown to a point where the best facilities are required for its premier competition.

“We don’t look at it in terms of small or big,” he said.

“We look at it in terms of who is presenting a magnificent facility infrastructure and everything that goes around making the World Cup a success.

“Ireland is incredibly competitive in this process. If they consider themselves a small country, they are in the game and continue to be.

“There is a vote to come and we’ll see what happens with that. But certainly this is now the third biggest sporting event on the planet and it does require scale and it does require facilities that are world class.

“And in this particular contest you’ve got two countries that very recently have hosted some world-class events beyond Rugby World Cup (EURO 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2010), and have demonstrated and been experienced in deploying their talents around events such as this.”

French Rugby Federation boss, Bernard Laporte was far less than complimentary about World Rugby’s report, going as far as labelling it “laughable”. Gosper was however not entirely shocked by the response.

“We were not surprised by the reaction, the disappointment, the emotion. Yes I think some of the language was a bit excessive and we’d refute all of those allegations as being the most professional selection process not just for Rugby World Cup but probably for every tournament in the world,” Gosper said.

“The transparency of it, the thoroughness of it, the professionalism of it, the use of third party experts, the use of third party people overseeing that the process was extremely fair is unprecedented, so no.”

Ireland is the only bidding nation out of the three which is yet to host the competition as the main host. They have hosted certain matches in previous tournaments held in France and in England.

South Africa and France hosted the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, with the Springboks emerging triumphant on both occasions.

Also read: 2023 Rugby World Cup: NZ Rugby CEO assures South Africa of New Zealand’s vote