SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has ruled out any suggestions that they will challenge the voting process after France won the right to host 2023 Rugby World Cup on Wednesday.
World Rugby’s bid evaluation committee recommended that South Africa host the tournament, but a vote by secret ballot saw France, who hosted the World Cup in 2007 which South Africa won, won the majority of the votes.
SA Rugby’s staff, who had gathered in their headquarters’ cafeteria were stunned when the announcement was at about 15:00 South African. It literally felt like a funeral, especially when the giant South African flag with ‘#SA2023’ on was removed from the balcony.
“We have said throughout that we would honour both the letter and the spirit of the process and we now consider the 2023 bidding process closed,” Roux said in a statement.
“However, in the feedback sessions I am sure we will be recommending to the World Rugby Council that the verdict of the evaluation committee become binding.
“World Rugby ran an exhaustive and transparent process for 15 months to identify the best host nation, only for the process to go entirely opaque for the past two weeks.”
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander says they are “bitterly disappointed” at the decision by the World Rugby Council to overturn a recommendation, but vowed to bring back the tournament to South Africa after it was first held in the country in 1995.
“We are bitterly disappointed at this decision and would like to apologise to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes,” said Alexander.
“We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed today.
“We produced a compelling bid document that earned the unanimous recommendation of the Rugby World Cup Ltd board. That recommendation was questioned last week by rivals, but endorsed a second time by World Rugby last week.
“However, the view of the experts and World Rugby’s leadership was overturned by World Rugby Council members, who may have had other factors to take into account.
“We cannot hide our desolation but, for the sake of rugby we wish the 2023 tournament hosts every success.”
Alexander said that after a fourth successive disappointment in the Rugby World Cup bidding process it was difficult to know where South Africa would go from here.
“It will be for the next generation of SA Rugby leaders to decide whether to compete for the 2027 tournament or beyond,” he said. “I am sure our country will fulfil the dream of hosting the tournament once again someday; our hearts bleed that it will not be in 2023.”