France confirm interest in hosting 2023 Rugby World Cup

Federation to submit bid as five countries compete to host the 10th iteration of rugby union's greatest tourament

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) has confirmed it will bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The decision was confirmed in a statement at the end of the FFR’s annual congress in Belfort on Saturday.

We are delighted with the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments in Rugby World Cup 2023 at this very early stage

Alan Gilpin

France, who last hosted the tournament in 2007 with some matches taking place in Wales and Scotland, is the third European country to enter the race to host the prestigious competition, joining Italy and Ireland – two countries they will face in Pool D at this year’s event, which starts in September.

An all-Ireland bid, including the use of GAA stadia, was launched in December, while Italy have also expressed their interest, despite their off-field problems at domestic level stunting meaningful development in the country.

Launch of the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Ireland launched their bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in December 2014 Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Other countries set to throw in their lot are South Africa, who hosted the 1995 iteration, and the USA, a rising nation in rugby union terms already buoyed by successfully bidding for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will be held in San Francisco and San Jose.

After a briefing event for potential future hosts in London earlier this month, Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin admitted the governing body was pleased with the level of interest already shown for the 2023 event.

“We are delighted with the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments in Rugby World Cup 2023 at this very early stage, which highlights the enormous hosting appeal of Rugby World Cup as a low-risk, high-return economic, social and sporting driver and we welcome further dialogue as the process progresses,” Gilpin said.

Following this year’s event, hosted by the Rugby Football Union in England and Wales, the the 2019 event moves to the southern hemisphere with Japan – an emerging market for rugby union with the potential for huge growth – winning the bid ahead of Italy and South Africa.

Since the inaugural event in 1991 was hosted by Australia and New Zealand, rugby union’s showpiece international event has rotated between the northern and southern hemispheres.

If the pattern prevail, the 10th iteration in 2023 should be held in the northern hemisphere, which could make South Africa’s bid futile.

While established rugby nations Ireland and France will provide strong bids, World Rugby’s desire to expose the sport to emerging markets could give the USA a unique advantage, even though it would collide with the start of the American football season.

World Rugby opened the bidding process on 14 May with a deadline of June 2016. The winning bid will be announced in May 2017.

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