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Those who remember the popular television program “The Dating Game,” will recall that three bachelors answered questions posed by the unseen bachelorette, who, at the end of the round, made her choice, selecting her one prince from the trio. The losing pair waved a farewell and exited off the stage without a word of complaint.
The recent decision by World Rugby to choose South Africa over France and Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup has not, as in “The Dating Game,” generated a magnanimous response from the two nations not selected. In fact, the opposite occurred, France and Ireland remain on the stage, hurling negative accusations against World Rugby.
Since the final vote is November 16, there is an outside chance that the assembly will not follow the Board’s South African anointment. Yet, it is doubtful that the second and final vote will reverse the official Springbok nomination.
In past Rugby World Cup selections, the parent organization solicited the countries’ bids, and then, in closed meetings, chose the next host. But, in a world-wide movement toward transparency in all aspects of global businesses, World Rugby required information on different variables, weighted by importance, and published results for all to see. Some of these were stadiums, security, hosting (hotels), and financial guarantees. In this new process, the 2023 Cup decision was determined by a numerical score and not decided by subjective reasons.
When France and Ireland examined the ratings set next to the variables, they were offended by lower scores, especially, in contrast to the higher South African tallies. One variable, “security”; offended both losing nations, who argued that no unrest existed in Ireland and France when contrasted with local problems in South Africa.
In addition, France carped that its “hotels” should have outscored South African’s hospitality offerings.
In the past, nations not selected to host the lucrative Rugby World Cup, sent in notes of congratulations to the winning nation, and considered making a bid for the following RWC. Not anymore. Both Ireland and France have complained officially to World Rugby, especially, in their local media.
The transparency objective backfired. Who can predict what this unfortunate incident will do to the next bidding for 2027?