Brett Gosper adamant 2023 Rugby World Cup selection process was robust and fair
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 22/11/17 1:34pm
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has insisted the 2023 World Cup host selection process was robust, fair and the most professional of any tournament in the world, refuting claims to the contrary from France and Ireland.
Both nations lost out in an independent review where the host recommendation of World Rugby for the 2023 World Cup went to South Africa.
The publication of the report has led to angry responses by the FFR (French Rugby Federation) and IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union), both of whom have called into question aspects of the process.
"RWC does require scale and it does require facilitates that are world class"
Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid chairman Dick Spring expressed his "shock" at some of the findings, and indicated a "skewed basis" scoring system which "will preclude the majority of potential new bidders from ever having the opportunity to host the Rugby World Cup, therefore thwarting the growth of the game and rugby's flagship event."
Speaking on The Offload to Sky Sports, Gosper did admit the Rugby World Cup has grown to a level whereby the tournament needs exceptional scale and infrastructure.
"We don't look at it in terms of small or big," said Gosper. "We look at it in terms of who is presenting a magnificent facility infrastructure and everything that goes around making a World Cup a success.
"Ireland is incredibly competitive in this process. If they consider themselves a small country, they are in the game and will continue to be.
"There's a vote to come and we'll see what happens with that. But certainly this is now the third biggest global sporting event on the planet and it does require scale and it does require facilitates that are world class.
"And in this particular contest you've got two countries that very recently have hosted some world-class events beyond Rugby World Cup [EURO 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2010], and have demonstrated and been experienced in deploying their talents around events such as this.
"It's a tough competition."
"Some of the language was a bit excessive and we'd refute all of those allegations"
President of the FFR Bernard Laporte went further by labeling the report "laughable", "incompetent" and "inaccurate". Did such strong language surprise Gosper?
"We were not surprised by the reaction, the disappointment, the emotion," he said.
"Yes I think some of the language was a bit excessive and we'd refute all of those allegations as being the most professional selection process not just for Rugby World Cup but probably for every tournament in the world.
"The transparency of it, the thoroughness of it, the professionalism of it, the use of third party experts, the use of third party people overseeing that the process was extremely fair is unprecedented, so no.
"Bernard Laporte has his point of view and we understand the disappointment, as indeed Ireland have demonstrated theirs as well.
"We had a process which was designed at a time when there was all sorts of things happening in the sporting world, with the issues around FIFA and so on, so we designed a process which would limit any horse trading and extraneous issues happening outside of the absolute value and merit of those different candidates."
"All three of these countries can put on a magnificent World Cup"
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne wrote a letter addressed to Gosper this week in which he raises a number of concerns with the South Africa bid.
Within Browne's letter, concerns are brought up regarding the potential for empty stadia in South Africa, the issue of security, the issue of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Durban being stripped from South Africa and financial issues such as the slipping of the South African Rand to "junk" status.
"It's disappointing that there has been some comments made that we don't believe are accurate and reflect the accuracy of our report," was Gosper's response.
"We have official channels which they are using to ask us on every element of our report, why they scored it a certain way, were there errors, were there issues, and we're in the process of answering those questions.
"But we're very confident that our process actually is robust and stands up to any scrutiny.
"Lets be fair, all three of these countries can put on a magnificent World Cup, everyone qualifies in that sense, however there has been a points winner and that is the recommendation of the World Rugby board.
"We wanted two things. We wanted to make sure we were in a position of negotiation and tension in terms of competition between three countries to provide the best possible World Cup at the highest price.
"Because actually the revenues that come out of these World Cups is what funds the development of the sport around the world.
"We've achieved. We've got three countries who could host an amazing World Cup at almost twice what we received in surplus from the England World Cup in 2015. This has been a very successful process."
The final vote to formally decide the hosts of the 2023 World Cup will be done via a secret ballot before the World Rugby Council on November 15.
Tune in to watch the entire Offload show with World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper from 9.30pm on Sky Sports Action.