France will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after being selected ahead of South Africa and Ireland.
South Africa was expected to be awarded the tournament for a second time after being named as the preferred host nation by World Rugby’s independent review, but France instead won the vote of member nations.
A simple majority from the 39 votes was required and France claimed 18 votes to South Africa’s 13 in the first round of voting. Ireland had eight votes and were eliminated.
The second round saw France claim 24 votes to South Africa’s 15 to be named hosts for a second time, after 2007.
The 10th edition of the tournament coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of the sport, when William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a game of football at Rugby School.
Bill Beaumont said: “We’ve been fortunate to have three great bids. There’s going to be two countries extremely disappointed. Certainly delighted for France. It will be a really exciting tournament.”
France and Ireland had contested the independent evaluation committee’s preference for South Africa and both remained confident of winning the race on Wednesday.
But it was France who proved most persuasive as the voting delegates opted against following the advice to choose South Africa, which hosted the tournament in 1995.
The 2023 tournament follows the 2019 edition, which takes place in Japan.
England hosted the most recent tournament, in 2015, when New Zealand won a second successive title after victory on home soil in 2011.
Beaumont had emphasised the “transparent selection process” before announcing the host, when World Rugby’s member nations went against the recommendation.
The move could be seen as embarrassing for the sport’s world governing body.
Beaumont disputed suggestions the vote made a mockery of the process.
Speaking at a media conference, the Englishman said: “Not really. If you look there wasn’t a great deal between France and South Africa in the evaluation report. It was very close.
“We feel the process has been absolutely transparent. Everyone’s been able to see how the scoring was.”
Beaumont had insisted he would follow the recommendation and the decision has been interpreted as a defeat for the world governing body in some quarters.
Beaumont added: “A humiliation for me? I don’t think so. I don’t think that at all.
“There’s always got to be one recommendation in the evaluation process and that was South Africa. Just because it went to France doesn’t mean there’s humiliation whatsoever.”
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