After the thorough and lengthy independent evaluation report was published on 31 October 2017, recommending South Africa to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the World Rugby Council yesterday (15 November 2017) needed two rounds of voting to dismiss it completely and vote for RWC 2023 to be hosted by France.
The initial report, although emphasizing all three candidates came through with excellent scores, narrowly place South Africa as the leading contender and most highly recommended with France close second and Ireland third. Long story short, extensive and intense lobbying and last-minute efforts from both France and Ireland seemed to do enough to warrant two rounds of voting and (quite shockingly) snatch Rugby’s biggest tournament away from South Africa’s grip into the secure bosom of a much delighted France.
Rather than dwell on where the Rugby will be played however, let us instead focus on the really important question of which nation (if any) will be able to knock New Zealand off their Rugby-dominance pedestal.
The Webb-Ellis Cup may be heading to a Northern Hemisphere host in 2023 but we are still two years away from RWC 2019 and six years away from 2023 and in the present, Southern Hemisphere Rugby still looks dominant over their Northern counterparts.
To be sure Ireland blasted South Africa 38-3 last weekend and England bullied Argentina to get a 21-8 victory, whilst Fiji went down to Italy 10-19. However, despite only winning by an eight point margin, Australia looked like they are getting back some of their cohesion to win over Wales 29-21 and the combined high scoring 82 points penned in the Scotland-Samoa (44-38) game is what every Rugby fan loves to see.
And what about the current and reigning World Champion All Blacks? Their 38-18 victory over France after a jittery 31-22 win over the Barbarians again showed the world how composure, tenacity and intelligence wins International matches. Depth helps too… it helps A LOT!
Not only did the Barbarians showcase New Zealand’s Rugby depth as the Kiwi-clad club side put on a gutsy effort against the All Blacks but the AB’s Wednesday’s win over France XV showed that effectively, an All Black Seconds team is on par with any international side on Earth at this moment in time. France led the AB’s 15-14 at the half but they were left battered by the middle of the second half as the AB’s scored two tries to regain the lead 28-15.
France Rugby did what it does best and shifted into overdrive to squeeze in eight points before time ran out but it was not enough and gave the All Blacks another success to add to their statistics.
This brings us back to RWC 2023 where if there is a list of contenders that have any chance of toppling the AB’s, it must also include the host French side.
With outstanding performances from flanker Sekou Macalou, speedy wing Gabriel Lacroix and an impressive Henry Chavancy, glimpses of how France will continue to develop their Rugby over the next few years and build a championship team resonated from the French performance. Having come so very close in 2011, surely it must be said that not only have France won the right to host the tournament but are now serious contenders to win the Cup at home in 2023.
Do you agree?
From which hemisphere will the next two Rugby World Cup winners come from?
2019: North / South
2023: North / South