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South Africa has received the World Rugby board's recommendation to host the 2023 World Cup.
The announcement almost certainly ends Ireland's hopes of staging the tournament on its own for the first time.
An official decision will not be made until November 15 although South Africa is all but guaranteed to pip Ireland and France, with World Rugby's council unlikely to go against its board.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "The comprehensive and independently scrutinised evaluation reaffirmed that we have three exceptional bids but it also identified South Africa as a clear leader based on performance against the key criteria, which is supported by the board in the recommendation."
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France head coach Guy Noves has classed England alongside New Zealand by admitting they were the two teams everyone wanted to miss in the Rugby World Cup draw.
Unfortunately for France and Noves, Eddie Jones' back-to-back RBS 6 Nations champions landed alongside Les Bleus in Pool C for the 2019 tournament.
With Argentina also in the same section along with qualifiers from the Americas and Oceania, it promises to be a challenging pool for all teams involved, with two places for the quarter-finals on offer.
Noves looked to paint a positive picture of France's draw, but he made it clear England were a side he would rather not have been pitted against.
"We were eagerly looking forward to this draw," Noves said.
"Our pool is very balanced and will allow us to have tough matches from the start of the tournament.
"England were, with New Zealand, the scarecrow that everyone wanted to avoid.
"We've got them in our pool. We're aware the match against Argentina is going to be decisive. We competed with them last year, as we did against England this year."
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