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France is toasting the announcement that it will host the 2023 Rugby World Cupafter being named the surprise winner of a secret World Rugby council ballot in London on Wednesday.

The bid beat off competition from the preferred hosts, South Africa – who play France in Paris on Saturday – and Ireland, having received the nomination after a second round of voting was required.

The World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont, was forced to defend the governing body after the decision went against an independent evaluation report at the end of last month which recommended South Africa be nominated as hosts.

“A humiliation for me? I don’t think so. I don’t think that at all,” Beaumont told a media conference.

He said, “There’s always got to be one recommendation in the evaluation process and that was South Africa. If you look, there wasn’t a great deal between France and South Africa in the evaluation report. It was very close. We feel the process has been absolutely transparent. Everyone’s been able to see how the scoring was.”

Rugby World Cup 2023 voting process

Three votes each: Australia, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Argentina; Two votes each: Japan, Asia Rugby, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Africa, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Europe, Sudamerica Rugby; One vote each: Canada, Georgia, Romania, United States

Round one

18 - France

13 - RSA

 8 - Ireland

Round two

24 - France

15 - RSA