France, Italy and South Africa will provide Ireland's competition in the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
World Rugby have announced the four unions all expressed a formal interest in holding the competition before the 15th June deadline and will now enter the bidding process which comes to an end in May 2017.
The USA had joined the race to hold the tournament in June however after throwing their hat into the ring they have decided not to lodge a bid.
This means there is now a good chance rugby’s flagship tournament will return to Europe after making its Asian debut in Japan in 2023.
Chairman of World Rugby, Bernard Lapasset, said: "We are delighted with the strong level of Rugby World Cup 2023 hosting interest from unions and governments, which highlights the enormous appeal of Rugby World Cup as a low-risk, high-return economic, social and sporting driver. We look forward to further detailed dialogue as the process progresses.
“Although USA Rugby ultimately decided not to proceed with a formal bid, it was very encouraging that they originally had expressed an interest in hosting rugby’s flagship tournament. In the end, they decided to focus instead on other upcoming projects, not least the hosting of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, but they are an ambitious and progressive union and I have no doubt they will bid to host Rugby World Cup at some point in the future.”
Tournament director Alan Gilpinadded: "The candidate hosts now have a year to benefit from detailed knowledge-sharing and preparation, including digesting the detailed tender requirements and observing Rugby World Cup 2015 hosting, before the confirmation to tender deadline of June 2016.
“The announcement of the Rugby World Cup 2023 host in May 2017 will also provide the successful union with six years to prepare for the delivery of the event and maximise the benefits of observing the delivery of Japan 2019, the first Rugby World Cup to be hosted in Asia.”