Cape Town - World Rugby has confirmed France, Ireland and South Africa as Rugby World Cup 2023 host candidates.
Each union demonstrated within its application that it could meet key criteria critical to a viable Rugby World Cup hosting bid by the first of September deadline.
Italy formally withdrew from the process last week after the union confirmed it could not guarantee government support with its bid being linked to the Rome 2024 Olympics.
World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont said: "We are delighted by the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments, which is clearly reflected in three strong and impressive applications.
"I would like to congratulate the unions for successfully progressing to candidate status and we welcome further dialogue with all parties as momentum builds towards the selection of the Rugby World Cup 2023 host."
The application phase was the second stage of a detailed three-phase host selection process following an initial education phase, designed to provide prospective bid unions and governments with all the information required to determine to proceed with a bid.
The candidate process officially opens on November 1 and the Rugby World Cup 2023 host union will be selected by the World Rugby Council in November 2017.