PARIS – French rugby chief Bernard Laporte told AFP on Friday that he wants the report recommending South Africa as 2023 World Cup hosts to be modified, believing that France’s credentials are more impressive.
South Africa moved into pole position ahead of France and Ireland when the Rugby World Cup Board unanimously recommended them this week for the tournament with a vote to take place on November 15.
But Laporte has written to the game’s rulers to protest aspects of the report, which placed France behind South Africa in a number of key indicators.
“We have analysed the report – there are six points where we have been placed behind South Africa, two of which are not possible,” Laporte told AFP in an interview.
In particular, he cited the report claiming “that our hotels (in France) are worse than those in South Africa, while we are the most visited country in the world”.
He added the report claims “our stadiums are not as good as South Africa’s, while they are new”.
“We are not rated as well over doping because they tell us that we are too strict! On security, we have the same number of points, even though there are 52 murders a day in South Africa. It’s crazy stuff.
“So we have written to World Rugby and Bill Beaumont (the president) to get answers to our questions and to get these changed, to have France placed in front.
“We have today sent our letter to all the federations,” added Laporte, who was also French national team coach between 2000 and 2007.
France is second in the recommendations behind South Africa, but ahead of Ireland.
The identity of the hosts will be revealed in London on November 15, with the winner requiring a majority of the 39 votes on offer.
South Africa hosted the World Cup in 1995, while France staged the tournament in 2007.
Despite the official recommendation favouring South Africa, Laporte insisted that he is not fighting a losing battle.
“Bill Beaumont says that today South Africa are favourites; we are going to say to him that this is not true.
“Furthermore, it is not the employees (of World Rugby) who vote, it is the elected officials.”
Beaumont said this week that South Africa had emerged as clearly ahead in all seven key criteria such as stadia and financial assurances.
South Africa has offered the most money of the three candidates, with a commitment from the South African government to exceed the minimum guarantee of £120 million required by World Rugby, with an additional guarantee of £40m to host the event.
The France bid received high marks despite an investigation surrounding Laporte for allegedly putting pressure on the French federation’s appeals board to reduce punishments imposed on Top 14 side Montpellier, whose owner Mohed Altrad is the biggest contributor to the 2023 bid.
For the Irish, the report released this week came as a blow as they had been seen in many quarters as the front-runners to host the tournament for the first time.
A lot of political capital had been invested in the bid – which had cross border support from all the Northern Irish political parties, and even British Prime Minister Theresa May throwing her support behind it.