'France and South Africa will go head to head' - French rugby chief dismisses Ireland's 2023 World Cup chances
Bernard Laporte, president of the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR), has not given up hope of France hosting Rugby World Cup 2023, despite World Rugby's review group recommending that South Africa as holders of the tournament ahead of his own country and Ireland.
Stressing the financial clout of France's campaign, which was also outlined by the review, Laporte said he would continue to garner support until the final decision - by a vote among other national unions - on November 15.
"As of today, a final is taking shape in which France and South Africa will go head to head," he said. "A new match is beginning, and will play out until the sovereign vote on November 15.
"In its assessment report, RWCL placed France 2023 in top position on the main criterion: the financial offer and the guarantees."
Laporte reinforced his faith in France's infrastructure and the hope that World Rugby would use the funds generated to develop the sport across the globe.
"This prime position buttresses our strategy, which consists of securing the record-high financial resources - 40 per cent more than in 2015 - needed for the development of global rugby.
"Now, we need to reassure the voting federations on the quality of our infrastructures and our stadia. The world's leading tourist destination, France has the infrastructures needed to host teams and fans from the world over, under the best conditions. Since UEFA Euro 2016, France has boasted stadia in line with the most demanding standards world-wide.
"In this final straight, we are more mobilised and determined than ever to convince the voting federations that France is the best choice for World Cup 2023."