Rivals Decry Power Of Money In Awarding Of Rugby World Cup To France
The decision to award France the 2023 Rugby World Cup last week "shocked advocates of a rival bid from South Africa" and "provoked accusations that the event has become dominated by money to the detriment of the game it showcases," according to David Keohane of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Ireland Bid Chair Dick Spring said, "Money is where you start and where you finish. It was the power of money. They [the French] arrived with barrels of money, not barrels of wine but barrels of money." France 2023 Bid Dir Claude Atcher "defended the emphasis on the profit that France brought to the table." He said, "If World Rugby had suggested other criteria, on engagement with fans or on the philosophy of the game, we could have done that. But this was the requirement that World Rugby asked us to put together." France's win came despite World Rugby having last month named South Africa as the "preferred candidate to host the event." In response, France "stepped up lobbying efforts, arguing that the report was inconsistent and under-emphasised the French ability to deliver a greater profit from the tournament." Simon Gillham, president of Top14 side Brive and a member of Vivendi's management board, said, "I think the worst thing that happened to the South Africans was coming first in the technical appraisal. They thought it was a done deal. But then it stopped being a technical thing and in the last two weeks it became totally political." That voters would opt for the bid offering a higher potential profit, which will be distributed among participating nations' rugby unions, is "perhaps unsurprising." Atcher: "To be honest with you, it was a large part of our discussion with the unions. They said 'Claude, how is it possible for World Rugby to decide not to get this money? We need this money. World Rugby needs this money'" (FT, 11/19).