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Quelle surprise? French not surprised by RWC decision and here's why

France Rugby World Cup 2023 bid leader Claude Atcher

France had the best 2023 Rugby World Cup bid and their success should not come as a surprise, according to the man who spearheaded the nation’s campaign.


Many were surprised by Wednesday’s announcement that the tournament would be heading to France, when South Africa had been considered favourites.

But French bid leader Claude Atcher was confident the European country had it in the bag, with Ireland also posing stiff competition.

“We had a good product,” said Atcher in quotes reported by L’Equipe. “And it was said from the beginning; the French application is good. 

“We were accused of a lot of things – ‘you are arrogant, you think you are the best’. But as in the field, you come to play thinking that you will win. 

“Yes, we said we were the best and we built around that. We took the five criteria [vision and hosting concept, organisation and schedule, infrastructure, venues and host cities, and finances] of World Rugby and worked on it. 

“But that’s not enough. We must show it, this product, to the federations that vote. So we went around the world. We presented our file in 18 countries. And we managed to convince. 


“After that, you have to secure the voices, because South Africa and Ireland also had a very good record. That said, at the end, I’m not totally surprised by the vote

Sports minister Laura Flessel added: “This victory comes to reward the quality of the French application, which has been able to take full advantage of the 2007 men’s World Cup and the 2014 Women’s World Cup on our soil.

“Their impact has allowed the development of amateur rugby, as well as the media interest in this sport in France.”

France received 18 votes in the first round to South Africa’s 13, with Ireland’s hopes ending after they only secured eight votes.


South Africa only received 15 votes in the second round to France’s 24.


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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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