Japan in 2019…but who will host 2023

It’s a three horse race…or is it.

France, Ireland and South Africa have now made their final pitches to host Rugby World Cup 2023. On 15 November, a winning bid will be selected by the World Rugby Council, but next week an independent body will put forth a recommendation. It will be hard for the WRC to go against the independent bodies final report.

For me and my family, the rugby world cup is a special event. My eldest son was born a few weeks after England won the cup in 2003, whilst my youngest son was born in 2007 and was cheering on England in the Paris final from his cot. For me, I’ve volunteered at  the 2015 World Cup and was in Paris when South Africa decided to destroy the England team during the opening rounds in 2007.



So how have the bids gone and what can we expect…

South Africa

SA Rugby CEO Roux has stated. “If you are really honest with yourself, the World Cup should be in some Euro-centric environment, every four years. Because that’s where you will make the most profit on an annual basis, which will benefit the game”.

“We are able to make a massive profit every 20 years. We can’t have a World Cup every four years – our government won’t be able to sustain paying a guarantee every four years, and probably some of the others won’t be able to.”

So, basically Roux is stating its South Africa’s turn again, with two massive USP’s for the bid. Firstly that the South Africans, who have not hosted the tournament since 1995, will be able to deliver a world cup around 50% of the price a European one would cost.  Secondly, the experience for fans will be cheaper. Hotels are cheaper, travel is cheaper and labour is cheaper due to the currency exchange.

A strong bid…but I feel South Africa maybe have to wait until 2023.


France really want it…badly. The leader of France’s bid, Claude Atcher boast how France’s ability to make money for World Rugby is a vital tool against the stagnation of the game, stating: “If we don’t do anything, in five to ten years you will have two, three to four teams on the same level and that’s all, and rugby will die.” A strong statement and one I personally don’t agree with.

France don’t hide the fact that  World Rugby want cash to spread and improve the sport, so their bid is built on the promise of a big windfall. World Rugby demand that all potential hosts can cover a £120m minimum fee for hosting rights, which must be underwritten by the government, as well as the costs of putting on a World Cup. France and their government have bid more than the £120m, to the tune of £30m, and they have guaranteed approximately £210m for their operating costs.  In France nothing talks more than money and this could be a strong deciding factor on where the cup goes.

With Japan not expected to bring in a big windfall in 20199, the 2023 World Cup needs to deliver. If France hosts in 2023, money will flood in.  They have the stadiums, the transport system, government backing, experience in hosting a World Cup…the list goes on.


Ireland have never held a World Cup before. In many ways that plays into their hands, could this be their year?

Ireland have opted to pay the £120m bid fee, and take out hospitality. They have a long-list of 12 venues, across Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will be whittled down to eight for the event, but they will have 2.2m tickets to sell for matches at the rugby and (much larger) GAA stadia. Ireland  believes the influx into the country for the event would bring in “if you were being conservative, at least €800m (£713m) but should be €1.5bn (£1.34bn).” Wow!

In conclusion

3 strong contenders. 1 bid based on the hope it’s their turn after a 25 year break. Another has buckets of Euros to pour into the World Rugby coffers, backed up with plenty of experience. However, never write off the Irish. The money can be sourced. The country has the stadiums, both north and south of the border. The island of Ireland would love to host the World Cup and have the excuse for a massive party!

Money…tick….Stadia…tick….weather…well, its not that important….Guinness…tick!

Therefore I think Ireland, the home of World Rugby,  might just get the nod ahead of France.