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Much like three ardent courtiers pursuing fair maiden’s hand in marriage, so came the wooing bids from Ireland, France, and South Africa to host the 2023’s Rugby World Cup. When World Rugby’s technical review committee opted for South Africa in a preliminary vote, the losing nations bitterly complained. And, after embarrassing the parent organization in the international sports media, France and Ireland vowed to fight on until the final whistle, that outcome coming November 15 in London when regional areas make the second and last vote.

Hosting the RWC means money, a lot of it, and jobs, a lot of them, to the host nation. The RWC will be, for a year’s duration, the font of newly found cash, employment, and national pride. No wonder Ireland and France are disappointed. In addition, both countries spent more than $2 million to mount the bid, monies that are forever lost with nothing to show for the expenditure.

The Franco-Irish grievances arose not only from not being selected but also from examining the ratings of the technical committee (see photo above), which set numerical values to the variables determining the winner. The irony is that World Rugby’s complete transparency only opened the decision-making process to counter claims, and rebuttals from the two, non-selected nations.

But the history of the past and future RWCs (England in 2015, Japan in 2019) pointed to a venue not in Europe or in Oceania. South Africa was the logical geographical choice. It last hosted the RWC in 1995, and six world cups will have passed until 2023, before the country’s second hosting. Further, it boasts eight world class stadiums, and could point to the successful staging of the FIFA (Soccer football) World Cup in 2010.

France staged a brilliant and successful RWC in 2007 and, for many pundits, it was too soon to choose France again. The French claim that another RWC in 2023 would set the stage for the 2024 Paris summer Olympics seemed to backfire when some asserted the French would be distracted the year before the Olympic Games, and not give full attention to the 2023 RWC.

Ireland, which finished a distant third, could not overcome a small country’s lack of numerous large capacity rugby and soccer stadiums. To make lemonade out of lemons, the Irish contended that its 17,000 seat venues would look full when second tier nations played other second tier nations and not display empty seats if contested in the 40,000 plus South African and French stadiums.

Next week will be the final vote. It is doubtful that the full assembly will go against the preliminary finding for South Africa in 2023.