Hope still for Ireland, but South Africa in driving seat to host Rugby World Cup

South Africa is expected to be awarded the right to host Rugby World Cup 2023 ahead of Ireland and France in London today.

South Africa was named as the preferred host nation by World Rugby's independent review, but that only sparked spiky reactions over that process from Ireland and France.

A simple majority from the 39 votes is required, with South Africa expected to be named hosts for a second time. The Springboks won the tournament on home soil in 1995.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt remains convinced his side's record 30-3 thumping of the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday could swing the vote of World Rugby's member nations today, but that appears to remain a long shot.

"This could really put the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) in the shop window when people are voting on Wednesday," Schmidt said in the wake of Ireland's fine victory over South Africa.

Schmidt's position and the IRFU's fight to overturn South Africa's advantage has run as far as chief executive Philip Browne writing a letter to World Rugby to challenge the independent process behind the preferred bidder recommendation.

World Rugby publicly acknowledged receipt of that behind-the-scenes letter on Friday, in order to consider the matter closed.

"World Rugby can confirm that it has addressed in full, clarification requests by the Rugby World Cup 2023 host candidates and council members," read World Rugby's statement.

"The ability to submit clarification requests following the publication of the recommendation and comprehensive report on 31 October was agreed and permitted within the host selection process operated by World Rugby.

"These clarifications have been addressed with significant supporting detail, and have been shared with the host candidates and World Rugby council.

"The comprehensive and objective responses reflect the transparent principles at the heart of the independently audited process. They do not impact on the detail or outcomes of the evaluation report nor on the subsequent recommendation."

The 2023 tournament follows the 2019 edition, which takes place in Japan.

England hosted the most recent tournament, in 2015, when New Zealand won a second successive title after victory on home soil in 2011.

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