2023 Rugby World Cup criteria: Key findings

John O’Sullivan looks at key areas in World Rugby’s Technical Review Group report

World Rugby’s Technical Review Group released their findings on Tuesday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

World Rugby’s Technical Review Group released their findings on Tuesday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Vision and hosting concept

The Irish bid finished second behind France, the best performance across the five weighted categories. Ireland scored highest in the ‘Introduction’ section “with a concept that was creative, well-considered and unique.”

France won out overall because “the bid provided a more significant array of well-considered, innovative and creative proposals than the other two candidates.”

South Africa’s commitment to a ‘Tournament Information Legacy’ system won plaudits. The Irish weakness was cited under ‘Sustainability’ where the report found “the concept is solid but not as comprehensive or innovative as the French proposal which has clearer objectives and outlines a significant number of projects.”

Tournament infrastructure

This is broken down under the sections, ‘security, transport, accommodation, technology, rugby services and ticket strategy.’ Ireland was given the same score under security as both South Africa and France, which seems a tad harsh but the biggest stumbling block for Ireland came in the technology section, which includes telecommunications.

The report read: “All but two of the venues require significant levels of upgrade and/or installation of technology and telecoms infrastructure,” before going on to add that all venues require increased capacity in telecommunications terms. It concludes that the amount of upgrade work required is a significant risk factor not inherent in the other bids.

Tournament organisation and schedule

One of the three criteria in this section was for the host nation to have substantial experience in hosting major events of a similar stature and this is where Ireland lost ground to both their rivals, France and South Africa having both hosted soccer and rugby World Cups.

The Irish bid listed the country having hosted a number of major international sporting events like the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, European rugby and soccer finals, the Volvo Ocean Race and the start of the Giro d’Italia. But the report noted: “Ireland has not hosted a major international sporting event of a similar stature, scale and complexity to the Rugby World Cup. ”

Venues and host cities

A detailed area of evaluation centred on whether a minimum of eight venues met Rugby World Cup Limited’s (RWCL) minimum standard requirements, a category in which Ireland finished bottom of the pile based on a concern relating to the amount of work required to bring Pearse Stadium, Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Fitzgerald Stadium up to standard - despite a €34 million government commitment to fund the upgrade - and it was also pointed out that Casement Park still hadn’t nailed down planning permission.

While RWCL were content to allow standing at some matches they insisted that the stadiums were all-seater for Category A and knockout matches. Pairc Ui Chaoimh would require temporary seating to be installed. The stadiums in France and South Africa were bigger and better.

Financial commercial and commitments

Ireland paid the minimum tournament fee (£120 million) for which they received the lowest score, while South Africa were awarded the maximum having offered the highest (£160 million), which initially suggests that money talks loudest. However, Ireland’s commercial revenue though advertising and sponsorship packages allowed them to claw back parity in an overall context with the South Africans.

France were the clear winners, the French government underwriting a £150 million tournament fee while having superior commercial programme values when weighed against those offered by Ireland and South Africa. The Irish government were unwilling to get involved in a bidding war in relation to the tournament fee and ultimately it wasn’t decisive in determining Ireland’s finishing position overall.

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