South Africa are now clear favourites to be awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup as the findings of the technical review group published this morning has favoured their bid.
Ireland, South Africa and France are in the running to host the tournament and while a final decision will not be made until after the World Rugby council votes on 15 November, the expectation is that today's publication should be decisive.
South Africa will now be recommended as RWC 2023 hosts by the Rugby World Cup board.
The two-time winners famously previously hosted the tournament in 1995.
The technical review group - made up of a 20-plus strong panel - assessed and scored each of the bids on five criteria.
In descending order of importance, they were: finance and tournament guarantees; venues and host cities; tournament infrastructure; vision and concept, and tournament organisation and schedule.
In an effort by World Rugby to be transparent, this is the first time the process of choosing a host country has seen the publication of the technical report.
The Chairman of Ireland's 2023 oversight board has said Ireland remains in the fight to host the tournament.
Dick Spring said it was a two-stage process, that the technical evaluation was the first stage, and the good news is that Ireland has been recognised as capable of hosting a tournament.
He said he believed Ireland still had a compelling case to make and would continue to work until the final vote takes place in London, saying it would come down to "the hearts and minds of the 39 votes".
Mr Spring said that Ireland would not have the same stadia as France or South Africa, but that the Irish bid was offering a different vision for the world cup, with much better spectator participation.
Ireland's 900-page bid document charted an economic benefit of around €1.5 billion, with organisers pledging to sell all 2.2 million tickets at an overall rate of 30% lower than England 2015.
The IRFU highlighted Ireland's tourism market, iconic stadiums and training venues, as well as the ease with which teams, fans and supporters will be able to travel from venue-to-venue.
Mr Spring added that Ireland would guarantee to fill every stadium and he was not sure that this was something South Africa or France would be able to do.
He said that today's result was "a bit like getting a bad opinion poll before an election, you still put on your best gear and get out there."
French Rugby President Bernard Laporte said the contest to host the tournament was now a two-horse race as he dismissed Ireland's chances.
First round in rugby World Cup bid to South Africa! Far from over.Ireland squad already togging out for second half and win on Nov 15.— Shane Ross (@Shane_RossTD) October 31, 2017