Cape Town - World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper insists there was nothing wrong with the selection process for the 2023 World Cup after a technical report gave South Africa the best rating.
The Rugby World Cup Board last week recommended that the World Rugby Council award the tournament to South Africa, which the report placed ahead of France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.
But the publication of the report has proved controversial, with Irish officials unhappy at coming third with a score of 72.25 compared with 75.88 for France and 78.97 for South Africa.
In a letter to Gosper that was published in the Irish Times, IRFU CEO Philip Browne requested that all World Rugby Council members be reassured that they can vote for whichever of the three potential host nations they prefer on November 15.
The French were also unhappy, with their sports minister Bernard Laporte saying he wanted the report recommending South Africa as 2023 World Cup hosts to be modified, believing that France's credentials were more impressive.
Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid chairperson Dick Spring also expressed his "shock" at some of the findings, and indicated a "skewed basis" scoring system which "will preclude the majority of potential new bidders from ever having the opportunity to host the Rugby World Cup, therefore thwarting the growth of the game and rugby's flagship event."
In an interview with Sky Sports, Gosper admitted that the Rugby World Cup has grown to a level whereby the tournament needs exceptional scale and infrastructure.
"We don't look at it in terms of small or big," said Gosper. "We look at it in terms of who is presenting a magnificent facility infrastructure and everything that goes around making a World Cup a success.
"Ireland is incredibly competitive in this process. If they consider themselves a small country, they are in the game and will continue to be.
"There's a vote to come and we'll see what happens with that. But certainly this is now the third biggest global sporting event on the planet and it does require scale and it does require facilitates that are world class.
"And in this particular contest you've got two countries that very recently have hosted some world-class events beyond Rugby World Cup (EURO 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2010), and have demonstrated and been experienced in deploying their talents around events such as this.”
Laporte labelled the report "laughable", "incompetent" and "inaccurate", to which Gosper responded: "We were not surprised by the reaction, the disappointment, the emotion. Yes I think some of the language was a bit excessive and we'd refute all of those allegations as being the most professional selection process not just for Rugby World Cup but probably for every tournament in the world.
"The transparency of it, the thoroughness of it, the professionalism of it, the use of third party experts, the use of third party people overseeing that the process was extremely fair is unprecedented, so no.”
Both South Africa, in 1995, and France, in 2007, have previously staged the World Cup outright, while Ireland are bidding to be the main hosts for the first time.
The World Rugby Council will make the final decision in London on November 15.