Now Ireland said to be mulling legal action over contentious RWC report
Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is reported to be considering legal action against World Rugby, rugby union’s international governing body, over a contentious report that recommended that rival candidate South Africa should host the event.
A letter from Philip Browne, the chief executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union, seen by the UK’s Times newspaper, is reported to question the awarding of high marks to the South African bid in four of the five areas considered by the report, by the board of Rugby World Cup Limited.
For example, the letter questions the high marks awarded to South Africa for stadiums and ticketing despite “very clear examples in recent times of starkly empty stadia in South Africa for significant fixtures”. It adds: “The evaluation report does not appear to address this in any meaningful way.”
The letter also questions why concerns about South Africa being stripped of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Durban after failing to meet commitments are dismissed with a sentence saying: “SA Rugby confirmed that this matter is not relevant to RWC 2023 hosting.”
Questions over South Africa’s plans for security and governments guarantees are also raised.
World Rugby is also facing strong opposition from the third bidder, France, which has asked World Rugby to issue corrections to alleged errors in the report.
Browne told The Times: “We felt we have had no choice but to rebut some of the inaccuracies in the report. We have spent five years working on this and have spent a significant amount of money, time and effort on this bid.”
However, World Rugby responded, saying: “We understand that emotion is high and that some people are disappointed to read the contents of this comprehensive, objective, transparent and independently audited report by The Sports Consultancy. Such emotion has resulted in inaccurate and unfounded statements being made in the media, which is disappointing.
“We fully stand by a robust host selection process that was supported by the host candidates along with their council colleagues, and will be responding to host candidate questions in full through the appropriate channels.”
Under the five main criteria assessed by the board, South Africa scored highest in three: 'tournament, organisation and schedule'; 'venues and host cities'; and 'tournament infrastructure'. France scored highest for the remaining two, ‘vision and hosting concept’ and ‘finance, commercial and commitment’, with Ireland trailing in second or third place on all five.
South Africa's bid apparently offered the highest financial guarantee to World Rugby, worth £160 million ($213 million), followed by France's with £150 million and Ireland, which offered the minimum guarantee of £120 million.
A final decision on the host will be made by World Rugby’s ruling Council on 15 November.