South Africa is in pole position to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023, after receiving an official recommendation from the tournament's board of directors.
"This is the first Rugby World Cup host selection to take place following a complete redesign of the bidding process to promote greater transparency and maximize World Rugby's hosting objectives", World Rugby and Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.
In the bid criteria, South Africa led in venues and host cities, tournament infrastructure, and organization and schedule.
World Rugby released a bid evaluation report by its experts and external consultants, and said South Africa was the unanimous pick. "We are 100% confident that the commitments we made in our document will be delivered".
Irish rugby could be in line for one of the biggest days in its history as World Rugby announces today its preferred candidate to host the 2023 World Cup.
"Ultimately, the decision rests with the Council Members of World Rugby, who are elected by Rugby Unions from across the globe".
Ireland, who were initial favourites to host the tournament, are understood to have finished last in World Rugby's recommendation.
South Africa famously held the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which came at a time where apartheid was still very much the major talking point in the country.
Vision and hosting concept was worth 10pc of the overall score, with Ireland finishing second in this category with 6.75pc.
Two areas where the Irish bid were marked down in this category was with regard to the minimum tournament fee of £120m, which France (£150m) and South Africa (£160m) far exceeded, and in providing 'evidence that the commercial programme values will be optimised in the host country. There were fears in South Africa that the aborted Commonwealth Games hosting might adversely affect the Rugby World Cup bid.
"Regardless of the final decision it should not stop us from constantly being on the lookout for bringing large scale sporting tournaments to Ireland with Derry and wider region being part of those plans".
Despite their readmission in 1992 to global rugby, after years of apartheid-enforced sporting isolation, South Africa used home advantage so well that the debutants reached the World Cup final in 1995.