Italy the latest country to bid for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Ireland and South Africa have already signalled their intention to bid for tournament in 2023

Italy have confirmed they will bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023 — the first nation to cement their opposition to Ireland, although South Africa signalled their intention to bring the tournament back to the country yesterday.

The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) has vowed to formalise its bid to stage the 2023 global contest when World Rugby starts accepting bids in May.

Ireland asserted themselves as the first Test nation ready to bid to host the World Cup in eight years' time at the tail-end of last year.

South Africa, who hosted the tournament in 1995, and the USA are also expected to ratify their bids in due course, now World Rugby has confirmed the application process.


"We will formalise our interest with World Rugby in the month of May," said FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi, who believes hosting the Junior World Championships in 2011 and again this summer boosts Italy's ability to stage a World Cup.

“But I want immediately to confirm our intention to bid to host the World Cup in Italy in 2023.

"The growth of rugby in Italy in recent years, results obtained in the Six Nations and autumn Tests and the experiences with the Under-20s World Cup in 2011 and next June are just some fixed points behind the Italian bid.

“I am sure that today Italian rugby has everything you need to organise a memorable Rugby World Cup and that whole movement, in the next two years, will work to ensure that this dream can become a reality.”

Governing body World Rugby will launch its “expression of interest phase” for countries aiming to bid to host the 2023 competition on May 14th.

That process will finish on June 15th — but completed bids will not be submitted until June 2016.

World Rugby will hold workshops for unions interested in applying to host the tournament in June this year, and the game’s global bosses will not ratify the 2023 hosts until May 2017.

Ireland have already been open about committing £100 million to underwrite their bid to host the 2023 World Cup.

The Government and Northern Ireland Executive have already backed the Irish Rugby Union’s plans to secure rugby’s global showpiece.

South Africa and the USA are expected to offer the strongest opposition to Ireland’s bid, but Italy have confirmed their interest ahead of those two other potential contenders.

South Africa Cup hope to make it fourth time lucky after three unsuccessful attempts, the country’s rugby union (SARU) said on Wednesday.

SARU must now receive approval from the country’s national Olympic Committee and government, but this is seen as a formality with the bid process to open in May.

"We definitely expect to be bidding to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup - as we have for the past three tournaments," SARU said in a statement. "By the time the tournament comes round it will be 28 years since Nelson Mandela handed the trophy to Francois Pienaar and I believe that South Africa is hungry to once again host rugby's greatest occasion.