WORLD CUP 2023: Beaumont not 'humiliated'
Just last month, the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) board unanimously recommended South Africa to host the tournament, with RWCL chairman Bill Beaumont saying the nation was the "clear leader", and a final decision will be made via a World Rugby Council members' vote on November 15.
World Rugby published an evaluation report which said South Africa should be chosen given it had an overall rating of 78.97, compared with 75.88 for France and 72.25 for Ireland, across a range of criteria.
The report aimed to provide objective standards for a process previously dogged by allegations of backroom 'horse-trading' between countries.
But it immediately came under attack from both France and Ireland, who were rebuked by World Rugby chiefs, including Beaumont, as they reaffirmed their support for its findings.
Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation, was especially damning, telling AFP in an interview last month: "On security, we have the same number of points even though there are 52 murders a day in South Africa. It's crazy,"
But Laporte, a former coach of the France national side and a former French government minister, was in a more conciliatory mood on Wednesday, saying: "I'm proud France was chosen. We had a solid dossier like our two rivals. We will do our best,"
South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux had warned that going against the report's outcome would "laugh in the face of transparency and process,"
That led to accusations of arrogance but South Africa officials made no attempt to hide their "bitter disappointment" and "desolation" with Wednesday's vote.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander added in a statement: "We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed today,"
Taking a swipe at the vote, he said the "view of the experts" had been overturned by World Rugby Council members "who may have had other factors to take into account". Roux complained that the process gone "opaque" over the last two weeks.
Beaumont denied World Rugby had been "humiliated" as a result of having the report's recommendation rejected.
"Just because it went to France doesn't mean there is humiliation," he said.
"I was involved in a bid [for 2007] with England that got three votes many years ago – two of them were from England – so I can understand the disappointment,"
Beaumont, the captain of the 1980 British and Irish Lions beaten in a Test series in South Africa, added: "Like a game of rugby, some you win, some you lose,"