1. ITV Report

Lomu sons back French bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup

Lomu pictured in 2002 against England. Photo: PA

Jonah Lomu's sons have made an emotional plea for France to be awarded World Cup 2023 host status.

The late All Black's sons Dhyreille and Brayley Lomu were on hand as France presented its proposal to tournament bosses in London, along with fellow bidders Ireland and South Africa.

The successful host nation will be announced on November 15, and former France flanker Sebastien Chabal explained the Lomu boys' involvement.

"Dhyreille was born in France, born in Marseille, when their daddy came over and played for Marseille," said Chabal.

"And as he told us earlier, quite simply, he's known as the Frenchie at home.

"And Jonah Lomu loves France, that's where they saw their daddy playing rugby. Today I speak in their name.

"They said they would love to come back in 2023 to experience the World Cup in the country where their father was so happy.

"I'll leave it up to them to decide which jersey they will wear, blue or black, but they are very proud of this dual nationality, this dual identity and that's why they're with us today."

Former France flanker Chabal was speaking for Lomah's two children. Credit: PA

Jonah Lomu died in November 2015 after a long kidney illness.

French rugby federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte hailed the Lomu boys' appearance, saying: "It is very moving to have them with us, very good of them to have come all the way from New Zealand."

French president Emmanuel Macron has distanced himself from France's bid, and declined to provide a video message for the presentation.

France's Minister for Sport Laura Flessel insisted it was only other commitments that stopped his attendance in London however.

"There was no video, I'm here to represent the government," said Flessel.

Flessel insisted France's bid would be boosted by the country also hosting the 2024 Olympics.

"There will be huge synergies between these two events," said Flessel.

"We're not going to compete with 2024, far from it. It is in no way in opposition to the Olympics."

France also revealed their aim to stage the first closing ceremony in Rugby World Cup history.

"If France were to win then we would have some 600 players who would be welcomed to the closing ceremony to celebrate," said Chabal.