Former Ireland international Hugo MacNeill heavily criticised World Rugby's technical review which rated the Irish effort as the weakest of the three bids to host the 2023 World Cup. 

MacNeill, who won Triple Crowns with Ireland in 1982 and 1985, chaired the government's working group on the bid to host the 2023 World Cup. 

Speaking on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, MacNeill said a number of assertions made in the report left him puzzled. 

In particular, he expressed slight incredulity that Ireland was ranked an equal security risk to South Africa.   

"There was a lot of things that surprised us, and not only surprised us, but surprised a lot of people around the world, because we've got a lot feedback on this. 

"Ranking Ireland as an equal security risk to South Africa just seems crazy. The World Peace Index - which is the most respected index on security issues - ranks Ireland as the 10th safest country in the world, France as the 51st safest country in the world, and South Africa is the 123rd safest country in the world." 

One of MacNeill's biggest gripes with the report is that it didn't give sufficient weight to the question of how stadiums would be filled. 

"96% of the difference in the marks - when we broke down and analysed it - were down to two things: stadiums and prior hosting experience. 

"On the stadiums, it all seemed to be about having big modern stadiums. But in stadiums in World Cups, there's two elements and the second is equally important. And that's the ability to fill them.  

"I played in the first World Cup in 1987 and we played Wales in Wellington and I'll never forget the moment running out on the field.

"And I spoke to Jonathan Davies and Ieuan Evans this week - who were both incredulous about the outcome - and it was like we ran out on the field and we thought we were an hour early. Because there was no one there. The stadium was half full. And it was such a downer.  

"The reasons why the filling of the stadia is so important because it has such an impact on the whole tournament."

Toyota Cheetahs stadium in Bloemfontein before the game against Leinster in September

MacNeill was bemused that Ireland was adjudged so harshly on stadium technology issues when South Africa has a glaring weakness in terms of its ability to fill stadiums. 

He referred back to the 2009 Lions tour when so many of the midweek games were played out in front of half-full stadiums. 

"So many matches played in South Africa in the last few years have been in half full stadiums. There have been empty grounds. And those are matches which, by definition, have South African teams involved. 

"When New Zealand bid to host the 2011 World Cup, one of the things they put in as one of their credentials was hosting the Lions tour of 2005.

"Now the Lions tour of 2005 was a difficult tour from a results points of view but the matches were all full and there was a terrific atmosphere.

"I spoke to Donal Lenihan about being on the 2009 Lions tour in South Africa. He said it was horrendous. The Test matches were full but all the midweek games were empty.

"I was speaking to Andy Irvine, the great Scottish player who was involved for that tour. He said it was catastrophic.

"You would expect that when we were put under such scrutiny for the details of whether we'd have wifi (in stadiums) in six years time, why is the crucial question of how are you going to fill the stadiums (not analysed)?"