Three formal bids have been received from Ireland, South Africa and France to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The winning bid will be announced on November 15, but it’s obvious that Ireland should be picked, and that is said with absolutely no bias for any of the bidding nations. I’m a New Zealander and so don’t favour any nation of those competing.
The reasons as to why Ireland should be picked are obvious.
Firstly, they’ve never had the honour of hosting the tournament before, whereas France hosted in 2007 and South Africa did in 1995. That will be 28 years ago by the time 2023 rolls around, so surely South Africa are due a turn again. They could likely pitch their bid in the same way New Zealand did before winning the 2011 hosting rights too; by professing that rugby is already a part of the social fabric of their country and that the hosting rights could reinvigorate the rugby public of South Africa whose side has been struggling in recent times.
The problem with that tactic, however, is that Ireland can make the exact same appeal, and even though 28 years is a long time it’s still more recent than never. Unfortunately for France, 2007 was still only ten years ago and it would seem unfair for them to get another crack so soon over the other two nations.
Aside from considering which of the nations have hosted the tournament previously, another factor to consider is that the most likely rotation of World Cup hosting rights will probably continue to go in cycles of one turn in Europe, one turn somewhere else. The simple fact is that Europe is where most of rugby’s potential revenue is made and so, for financial reasons at least, every second tournament will likely continue to be Europe-based. As the 2019 tournament will be in Japan it makes sense that the following one will be back in Europe, which is good news for Ireland and France.
What South Africa has in favour of its bid, however, is the fact that many people consider the 1995 World Cup to be the best ever, myself included. It was an event that transcended sport and became a major global occasion that has cemented itself in South African and global history, so on their track record the South African bid is easily the strongest. Even with this as a factor the Irish can still argue they’ve never had a chance to demonstrate how good a tournament there’s would be, which is a fair point that France can’t make.
The nail in the coffin of South Africa’s bid, however, is the quota system that is currently in place in a lot of South African rugby sides. At the end of the day a player should be chosen on their ability and not on their skin colour. This is the reason why a lot of South African players have been looking abroad in recent times and also the reason their team is now struggling. Simply put, until South African rugby starts choosing their best talent, regardless of ethnic background, it is unlikely they will ever reach the top of world rugby again, and if anything they might continue to slide until they change their policy.
Finally, in terms of the finances, all three bidding nations have promised financially successful tournaments and realistically could probably all deliver on those grounds. The French definitely have the infrastructure and stadiums in order to host a successful tournament but France is already one of if not the richest rugby nations on the planet. What is hosting the event there going to achieve?
In Ireland it will be great for the country and there’s something about a nation that is smaller population wise that always makes a world sporting event incredibly important for all who live there. A Rugby World Cup in Ireland would give one of world rugby’s smaller countries a chance to host an event that will hopefully one day become so big that only the largest nations will be able to host it.
Countries like England and France have a range of major sporting events they can bid for and likely win such as the Olympics or FIFA World Cup. Ireland’s only realistic shot is rugby and it’s time they had their turn.
Teo Fudakowski, Pundit Arena
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