The World Rugby Council has awarded Rugby World Cup 2023 to France, which was selected following two rounds of voting during its interim meeting in London.

France received 24 votes to South Africa’s 15 in the final round of voting. In the first round, France received 18 votes to South Africa’s 13 and Ireland’s eight.

As part of the tender process the Rugby World Cup Board had made a recommendation to the Council that South Africa be the host nation. However, following the vote, France will be hosting rugby’s showcase men’s event for the second time and hosting the 10th edition of the event 200 years after William Webb Ellis gave birth to the sport.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Congratulations to France on being elected Rugby World Cup 2023 host. They presented a very strong and comprehensive bid, which clearly resonated with the Council today.

“We had three outstanding host candidates, who raised the bar and overwhelmingly demonstrated that they were all capable of hosting an exceptional Rugby World Cup. There was very little to choose between the candidates and this was reflected in the independently-audited evaluation report.

“I would like to pay tribute to Ireland and South Africa for their dedication throughout a rigorous, and transparent process and hope that they will bid again. We now look forward to working in partnership with France to deliver what I am sure will be a very successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

SA Rugby said it was “bitterly disappointed” at the decision by the World Rugby Council to overturn a recommendation that South Africa should host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and instead voted for France to host the tournament in a secret ballot.

“We are bitterly disappointed at this decision and would like to apologise to the people and government of South Africa for raising their hopes,” said Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby.

“We did everything in our power to bring the tournament to South Africa and we expected to have that right confirmed today.

“We produced a compelling bid document that earned the unanimous recommendation of the Rugby World Cup Ltd board. That recommendation was questioned last week by rivals, but endorsed a second time by World Rugby last week.

“However, the view of the experts and World Rugby’s leadership was overturned by World Rugby Council members, who may have had other factors to take into account.

“We cannot hide our desolation but, for the sake of rugby we wish the 2023 tournament hosts every success.”

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, ruled out any suggestions that his organisation might challenge the vote.

“We have said throughout that we would honour both the letter and the spirit of the process and we now consider the 2023 bidding process closed.

“However, in the feedback sessions I am sure we will be recommending to the World Rugby Council that the verdict of the evaluation committee become binding.

“World Rugby ran an exhaustive and transparent process for 15 months to identify the best host nation, only for the process to go entirely opaque for the past two weeks.”

Mr Alexander said that after a fourth successive disappointment in the Rugby World Cup bidding process it was difficult to know where South Africa would go from here.

“It will be for the next generation of SA Rugby leaders to decide whether to compete for the 2027 tournament or beyond,” he said. “I am sure our country will fulfil the dream of hosting the tournament once again someday; our hearts bleed that it will not be in 2023.”