Irish Rugby chief executive Philip Browne has questioned certain elements of South Africa’s World Cup bid recommendation in a letter to World Rugby.
A war of words has persisted ever since World Rugby’s evaluation report placed South Africa as the preferred hosts for the 2023 World Cup.
Ireland have insisted that they will not give up the fight to win the bid when World Rugby’s council conducts the final voting process on 15 November, while French rugby president Bernard Laporte has suggested ‘incompetence’ has blighted aspects of the evaluation process.
In a letter from Browne to World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper and the World Rugby Council, Ireland’s misgivings were once again raised on Wednesday.
When referencing stadium attendances, Brown wrote: ‘Whilst certain significant risks were noted in relation to the overall size of match venues in the South African bid, and its ticketing strategy, these do not appear to have been fully reflected in the scoring.
‘There are very clear examples in recent times of starkly empty stadia in South Africa for significant fixtures. Many independent commentators consistently point to the disappointing attendances at South Africa’s home Super Rugby matches. The evaluation report does not appear to address this in any meaningful way.’
Browne also queried whether a ‘independently recognised, world class security organisation’ had been used to review the underlying security situation within each bidding country.
In addition, Browne pointed out Durban’s failure to secure the hosting rights for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, while questioning the financial and commercial commitments of South Africa.
‘We are concerned regarding the evaluation of financial commitments and guarantees given South Africa’s current sovereign credit rating as categorised by Standard & Poor’s, is BB+, which is defined as speculative grade [sometimes referred to as ‘junk’].’
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