France, Ireland Not Giving Up Hopes To Host 2023 Rugby World Cup
Ireland and France are "hoping their late behind-the-scenes lobbying will have done enough for one of them to overhaul South Africa when the decision on who will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is announced," according to Jack Tarrant of REUTERS. The World Rugby Council will name the host nation in London on Wednesday, with South Africa the "odds-on favourites" after being recommended by board's evaluation report last month. The council "could still opt for any of the three bids in Wednesday's secret ballot," with 20 of the available 39 votes needed, but is "expected to rubber-stamp the recommendation." Ireland and France, however, "are not giving up and have publicly taken issue with criticisms of their bids" -- actions that were a "breach of the bidding protocol" (REUTERS, 11/13).
'SEEMS CRAZY': RTÉ reported former Ireland rugby int'l Hugo MacNeill "heavily criticised World Rugby's technical review," which rated the Irish effort as the "weakest of the three bids" to host the '23 event. MacNeill said that "a number of assertions made in the report left him puzzled." In particular, he expressed "slight incredulity that Ireland was ranked an equal security risk to South Africa." MacNeill: "Ranking Ireland as an equal security risk to South Africa just seems crazy. The World Peace Index -- which is the most respected index on security issues -- ranks Ireland as the 10th safest country in the world, France as the 51st safest country in the world and South Africa as the 123rd safest country in the world" (RTÉ, 11/13).