Commenting, IRB Acting Chairman, Dr Syd Millar, said "In making this decision, the Council of the IRB was faced with a difficult choice. We had received fine bids from two of the most powerful and influential rugby nations in the world, and there is no doubt that both could - and without doubt would - have staged a wonderful Rugby World Cup.
"With a choice between highly credible bids which met the key operational and financial criteria, the Council was able to debate fully a range of considerations as to which choice might prove the better for the continued and successful development of global rugby.
"One of the suggestions which had been made was to divide the Tournament into two halves, with a smaller and more elite group of nations competing for the main prize, but with a larger, additional group competing for a new trophy. But Council was overwhelmingly of the view that the structure should remain as it is, namely a Tournament comprising 20 teams playing in four pools of five.
"Whilst the underlying concept of greater inclusiveness was appreciated, widespread soundings amongst the developing nations had in fact indicated a strong preference to maintain the current format. The dream of one day performing on a world stage alongside the giants of rugby sustains the aspirations of many of our most promising nations and their players.
"The finals of RWC 2007 will be played in the months of September and October. This decision was taken in the light of a number of considerations, including the desire to minimise disruption to other international fixtures. The venues are indicated on the attached sheet.
"On behalf of the Council, I would like to say how delighted I am that the 2007 Rugby World Cup will take place in France. At the same time, I would like to express my thanks and commiserations to the Rugby Football Union, who put a great deal of time, effort and thought into their bid. I am only sorry that in such situations as this there has to be a loser.
"On a final point, the Directors of Rugby World Cup Limited have indicated to the Council of the Board that they believe the decision concerning the location of the Rugby World Cup should be taken earlier than has happened to date. The scale and nature of the preparatory work in delivering this great tournament demands more time than has in the past been allowed. This should change. It is our view that a decision should be taken some two years earlier than at present. In other words, we would like to see a decision taken concerning the location of the 2011 Rugby World Cup during the year 2005."
RWC 2007 Venues
Bordeaux (capacity 32,600)Lens (41,800)Lyon (41,500)Marseilles (60,000)Montpellier (32,500)Nantes (38,000)