South Africa has received a huge boost in its bid to host the 2023 rugby World Cup after it received a recommendation from the Rugby World Cup board on Tuesday.
France and Ireland were also in the running, but South Africa was awarded the most points by a team of experts.
The World Rugby Council will now meet on 15 November in London to vote on the next host.
The African country is almost assured of hosting the competition as the World Rugby Council is unlikely to go against its board.
“The board made its recommendation following detailed consideration of the comprehensive host candidate evaluation report,” the board said in a statement.
“In line with World Rugby’s mission to deliver a ground-breaking, rigorous and fully transparent host selection process for its showcase event, the report is being published today as agreed by council,” it added.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said South Africa stood out among the countries that submitted bids to host the 2023 event, based on performance against key criteria.
“This is the first Rugby World Cup host selection to take place following a complete redesign of the bidding process to promote greater transparency and maximise World Rugby’s hosting objectives. The comprehensive and independently scrutinised evaluation reaffirmed that we have three exceptional bids but it also identified South Africa as a clear leader based on performance against the key criteria, which is supported by the Board in the recommendation,” Beaumont said.
Should South Africa be confirmed as the hosts for the event, it would be a huge plus for the country’s sports sector, having hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
It is the only African country to ever host the football competition.