Italy pulls out of race for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Italy has withdrawn from the race to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, one week after Rome's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games was pulled by the city's new mayor.

Italy only tabled its bid for the tournament at the start of the month.

The announcement leaves France, South Africa and Ireland as the three countries bidding to host the tournament.

The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) said the two bids had been closely linked and it was not possible to carry on.

"As it has always been closely connected to that of the Olympic Games of Rome 2024, the candidacy for the 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup has no more conditions to continue," FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi said.

"We remain convinced of the great potential of the Italian bid, which would bring undoubted benefits and necessary improvements in Italian stadiums.

"We are aware that we have missed a fantastic opportunity to further embed our values and our sport in the Italian social fabric, but we have to recognise that as of now there are no grounds to continue this journey."

Rome's new mayor, Virginia Raggi, pulled the plug on the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympics, saying staging the summer games would bury the Italian capital under mountains of debt and tonnes of cement.

Rugby's governing body said that "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."

Photo: RWC