World Rugby has responded to stinging criticism by French Rugby Federation President Bernard Laporte, claiming his comments are "unfounded and inaccurate".
Laporte stated yesterday that he wants the report recommending South Africa as 2023 World Cup hosts to be modified, believing that France's credentials are more notable.
He launched a tirade against World Rugby, accusing them of "lies", "negligence" and "amateurism".
"What bothers me, primarily, is that the process was misguided, flawed," Laporte told newspaper Le Figaro before calling into question the validity of independent experts used by World Rugby.
"World Rugby told us that two external and independent companies would be mandated to conduct the audit.
"There was only one, and they ignored some aspects.
"In the end, 80 per cent of the report was made by World Rugby employees.
"I do not like being lied to!"
Citing a letter he then sent to Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby, Laporte stated that "the Irish did the same".
"They started the protest by sending a letter before ours," he said.
"That’s why I wrote to Bill Beaumont to ask why the process was different from the one they advertised."
World Rugby's statement did not name Laporte but there is little doubt that the Frenchman's comments have stung them into action.
Their statement reads: "World Rugby is concerned by the reported comments by host candidates regarding the Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection process and recommendation, and in particular those attributed to the Fédération Française de Rugby.
"While disappointment and high-emotion following the announcement of a recommendation is understandable, such comments are both unfounded and inaccurate.
"World Rugby has implemented a transparent, objective, professional and robust host selection process.
"The comprehensive technical evaluation has been undertaken by a team of World Rugby and third-party experts, independently scrutinised by The Sports Consultancy against agreed scoring criteria.
"The process was supported by the host candidates, the Rugby World Cup Board and Council throughout.
"We will be raising our concerns on this matter with the FFR and look forward to the World Rugby Council appointing the Rugby World Cup 2023 host on 15 November with a clear, comprehensive and objective recommendation to consider."
South Africa became clear favourites to be awarded the tournament over France and Ireland after the findings of the World Rugby technical review group favoured their bid.
These findings were unanimously recommended and backed South Africa as hosts with a final vote to take place on November 15.
The report had South Africa ranked highest with 78.9 per cent, France second with 75.8 per cent and Ireland third with 72.2 per cent.
Laporte's letter to World Rugby had criticised aspects of the report, which placed France behind South Africa in a number of key indicators.
"We have analysed the report – there are six points where we have been placed behind South Africa, two of which are not possible," Laporte told AFP.
In particular, he cited the report claiming "that our hotels are worse than those in South Africa, while we are the most visited country in the world".
Laporte said: "There are obvious mistakes.
"How can World Rugby say that hotels in the most visited country in the world are worse than those in South Africa?
"How can it be said that there are not enough hotels in Saint-Étienne which, for the record, hosted European Championship football matches 18 months ago?
"They make fun of us there.
"How can they dare to say that France is not able to better organise international sports events than South Africa?
"During the last 10 years, 21 have been organised and South Africa just two.
"They give us less marks than them for the quality of our stadiums but of our nine stadiums, five of them are new."
On the issue of security - when all three bids were rated equally despite France experiencing a state of emergency and South Africa’s "historical" crime problems - Laporte said: "According to the official statistics from the South African police there are more than 19,000 murders last year.
"France gave the necessary assurances in terms of security but South Africa, on the other hand, just had the Commonwealth Games 2022 withdrawn for security reasons."
Laporte, who was French national team coach between 2000 and 2007, continued: "I do not want to incriminate anyone.
"I cannot imagine for one second that they wanted to favour one nomination over another.
"It would be serious.
"No, I honestly think it’s negligence.
The identity of the hosts will be revealed in London on November 15, with the winner requiring a majority of the 39 votes on offer.
The World Rugby Council has 31 members with a total of 39 votes.
France, Ireland and South Africa will not get a vote as they are bidding.
Argentina, Australia, England, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales carry three votes apiece.
Japan, the 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts, have two votes as do each of the six Regional Associations: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America and South America.
The four other unions, from Canada, Georgia, Romania and the United States, have one vote apiece.
Each union with multiple votes can chose to split up their allocation, meaning that Australia, England or New Zealand could feasibly give one vote to each of the three bids.
Equally, they can also abstain, choosing not to vote.
Votes are kept confidential and if one team reaches a majority of 20 votes in the first round, then they will be crowned hosts of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
If there is no majority, then the candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated leaving it as a two-horse race in round two.
In the event of a stalemate Beaumont will decide the 2023 hosts.