The 2023 Rugby World Cup will take place in either Ireland, France or South Africa after the Italian Rugby Union (FIR) removed their hosting bid today.

The decision was taken by the FIR and the Promoting Committee following consultation with the Italian Government and the Italian Olympic Committee.

The move to pull out comes a week after new Rome mayor Virginia Raggi scotched the city's candidacy for the 2024 Olympic Games, saying that previous host cities such as London had been left with massive cost overruns and huge debts.

"Our candidature has always been strictly connected to the Olympic Games bid for Rome 2024 and, as agreed with the Goverment and the Olympic Committee, we are unable to provide necessary commitments for us to move forward," said FIR President Alfredo Gavazzi said.


"We remain convinced of the strenght of our bid and are well aware of the benefits that hosting the Rugby World Cup would have brought to Italy. We're conscious to lose a fantastic chance to promote our values and our sport in our country, but we must sadly accept that today we can no longer move forward with our bid."

The confirmation of the country chosen to host the 2023 World Cup will be announced by the World Rugby Council in November 2017.

South Africa Rugby are seeking to host the event despite a government ban on them staging international events since early this year, after failing to meet two of 13 racial transformation targets.

Despite government opposition, the rugby powers hope that when the next report on transformation is released they will meet all targets and be eligible to host the World Cup

"We are confident that the suspension will be lifted" said SAR chief executive Jurie Roux.

Ireland have never exclusively hosted a World Cup before but were part of the successful British bid in 1991.

South Africa famously won their own tournament in 1995 and France hosted more recently in 2007.