Ireland would be a magnificent host of the 2023 World Cup. Might be a bit of a Guinness blur but the craic would be grand.

France, too, would make a fabulous job of it, using all of their Gallic charm, eccentricities and culinary delights to make it six weeks to remember.

Both would deliver a bucket-load of cash for World Rugby. Especially France, but the Irish bid has a surprising number of match tickets to sell as they are using a number of GAA grounds that have 40,000-plus seats.

World Rugby has the luxury of choice. Always a good thing. But it does of course have a third option, which is South Africa.


The Republic isn't in great shape. The economy has gone to hell in a hand cart. The political scene is messy, right up to the top where President Jacob Zuma has had to survive a vote of no confidence.

The infrastructure is all there after hosting the 2010 Football World Cup, but while there are big stadiums and a big population, there's no guarantee locals will go to games. Low wages and high prices are never a good mix.

Security is a rising concern, although whether South Africa is a greater risk than France is debatable, but still, there's a perception perhaps that fans will need to take extra care which is never a great selling point.

And yet despite the volatility and lack of stability, perceived or real, South Africa is absolutely where the 2023 World Cup should be held.

Forget the economics, the politics, the sponsors, the time zones, the broadcast implications and whatever else the money men endless fret about.

Deciding a World Cup host shouldn't be a cold, clinical exercise made on the back of a handful of grey men and women pouring over spreadsheets and giving their view on the numbers.

It should be an emotional process, driven by the heart and not the head. All three bids have the potential to deliver the money World Rugby is looking for.

France will be the most lucrative and the least risky. But the difference in actual dollars generated may not be significant between the three, and besides, that shouldn't be the focus in regard to differentiating between them.

A World Cup is an experience more than an event. They take on a a life of their own, carry a vibe, a momentum and generate their own sense of identity that has a huge bearing on capturing the imagination of new followers.

The last two World Cups did that superbly. New Zealand nailed it - fans loved it. England in 2015 took it to a new level again. Great tournaments and great memories.

South Africa, arguably, has the greatest ability of the three bidders to generate that wow factor experience. It would be an odyssey through a traditional rugby power - as close as anyone could ever get to re-enacting an old-school tour.

It would be a tournament dripping in nostalgia and yet everywhere there would be constant reminders of the changing face of South Africa.

And maybe above all else, it is simply time South Africa was shown a bit of love: rewarded for it's long and rich rugby history and contribution.

The Boks have been a bit up and down the last decade, but they are one of the game's icons. They have won two World Cups and yet had just one crack at hosting while New Zealand have had two; Australia two, England three albeit in various sole and joint guises and France two.

Ireland can legitimately argue they are the fast rising, new force of world rugby and they are due some kind of acknowledgement of that.

But for all the Ireland have on the rise this last five years, South Africa have won two World Cups and the Boks have been a rugby heavyweight since year dot.

South Africa's need and right to be acknowledged is greater than Ireland's.