World Rugby notes the decision by the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) today to withdraw from the Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection process.

While it is disappointing that the FIR feels unable to proceed, World Rugby fully understands the decision and hopes to see Italy join the process for future Rugby World Cup hosting.

The host selection process continues with three strong applications currently being evaluated by a World Rugby Technical Review Group. The outcomes of the evaluation will be independently assessed to ensure a fair and consistent approach. Applicants that meet the criteria outlined will move to the candidate phase on 1 November. The Rugby World Cup 2023 host will be selected in November 2017.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection process follows a complete redesign of the bidding process to promote good governance and transparency, while providing prospective hosts unions and governments with an opportunity to gather all the information necessary to ensure hosting capability prior to moving through the process. This re-modelling has been assisted by The Sports Consultancy, which helped develop the documentation, tools and will support World Rugby throughout the process, including the evaluation and assessment phase. The appointment follows an initial project by The Sports Consultancy last year reviewing decision-making processes and evaluation criteria.

World Cup 2015, hosted in England and Cardiff, was the eighth edition of rugby’s showcase event and the biggest Rugby World Cup to date, reaching, engaging and inspiring fans in record numbers in stadia, in fan–zones, via broadcast and in conversation.

The best attended: 2,474,584 million fans in attendance in–stadia across the 48 matches (98 per cent capacity), surpassing 2.2 million at France 2007 (95 per cent capacity), while a further 1,055,000 fans visited the 15 fan-zones and a further million took part in Festival of Rugby activities.

The most viewed: 16,000 hours of action watched by 183 million fans, broadcast to 683 million homes in 209 territories worldwide with an estimated audience of 120 million watching the final, surpassing all 2011 metrics with Asia and Europe leading the viewership growth and significant increases in emerging rugby markets such as Brazil, China and Germany.

The most socially engaged: Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most spoken about event of the year and the most spoken about rugby event ever, with audiences and engagement surpassing the London 2012 Olympics and total engagement on the opening weekend greater than the whole of RWC 2011. A total engaged audience of more than 300 million joined the conversation and shared content within a reach of 1.5 billion, while 400 million video views were achieved during a tournament where #RWC2015 was used twice a second.

The most competitive: The average winning margin down from 25 points in 2011 to 22 points in 2015, while the average winning margin between the world’s top–ranked teams and the emerging rugby nations reduced from 36 points to 30, demonstrating the advances in competitiveness of the global game. Ball in play time was equal best at 44 per cent while the number of scrums were the lowest at an average of 13.

The most commercially successful: Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most commercially–successful event to date with reported commercial and broadcast deals increased by 40 per cent, Worldwide Partners locked down in record time and a global portfolio of official sponsors and suppliers. World Rugby’s anticipated surplus of £150 million surpasses the previous record of £122 million achieved at RWC 2007, underscoring the Federation’s mission to invest record sums in growing the global rugby family.