World Rugby has responded to French rugby president Bernard Laporte’s criticism of the 2023 World Cup evaluation process.
On Friday, Laporte slammed the evaluation report that placed South Africa as the preferred hosts for the 2023 World Cup. SA scored 78.97%, while France’s bid came second (75.88%) and Ireland’s third (72.25%).
The World Rugby Council has been told to take the panel’s recommendation into account when it votes on 15 November.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has called on France and Ireland to ‘stick to the moral high ground’ and allow ‘the process to take its normal course and hopefully not be part of anything untoward’.
Ireland reacted to this by accusing South Africa of trying to undermine the process, adding that the World Rugby Council members are the ‘ultimate arbitrators of who will host the tournament’.
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said there was a risk that games in South Africa would be played in ‘half-empty stadia’.
World Rugby responded to the war of words with a press release on Saturday.
‘World Rugby is concerned by the reported comments by host candidates regarding the Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection process and recommendation, and in particular those attributed to the Federation Francaise de Rugby,’ read a statement on Saturday.
‘While disappointment and high emotion following the announcement of a recommendation is understandable, such comments are both unfounded and inaccurate.
‘The process has been supported by the host candidates, the Rugby World Cup Board and Council throughout,’ the statement added.
‘We will be raising our concerns on this matter with the Federation Francaise de Rugby and look forward to the World Rugby Council appointing the Rugby World Cup 2023 host on 15 November with a clear, comprehensive and objective recommendation to consider.’