France, Ireland, Italy and South Africa have been confirmed as the four nations who will bid for the right to stage to the 2023 World Cup, World Rugby — thesport‘s global governing body, announced Friday.

The quartet all submitted formal expressions of interest before last month’s deadline but the United States, an emerging rugby union nation decided to focus their attention on the hosting of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

A decision on which country will stage the 2023 World Cup will be made in May 2017 ahead of a tender deadline in June next year.

South Africa staged the World Cup in 1995, when the Springboks won the tournament on home soil, while France played host to the 2007 edition.

However, neither Ireland nor Italy, two of Europe’s elite Six Nations, have been the main hosts of a Rugby World Cup.  

“The candidate hosts now have a year to benefit from detailed knowledge-sharing and preparation, including digesting the detailed tender requirements and observing Rugby World Cup 2015 hosting, before the confirmation to tender deadline of June 2016,” said Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin in a statement. 

“The announcement of the Rugby World Cup 2023 host in May 2017 will also provide the successful union with six years to prepare for the delivery of the event and maximise the benefits of observing the delivery of Japan 2019, the first Rugby World Cup to be hosted in Asia.”

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset added: “Rugby World Cup is our flagship event, and must continue to inspire, to reach out and attract new participants and audiences while delivering the financial platform for rugby to continue its record growth.

“Hosting should be a true partnership and incentivise and excite host countries, and we are currently undertaking an extensive review of the hosting model to strengthen the partnership between host and owner and further the benefits for all as we enter an exciting new era for our sport,” the Frenchman said.

The 2015 World Cup in England starts when hosts England face Fiji at Twickenham on September 18. – Agence France-Presse

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