Quartet to bid for 2023 World Cup
The bidding battle to host Rugby World Cup 2023 is set to be between four countries - Ireland, France, Italy and South Africa.
World Rugby confirmed on Friday that formal expressions of interest were received from the four respective unions by last month's deadline.
But the United States, which had expressed interest in lodging a bid, decided not to proceed.
The 2023 World Cup hosts will be decided in May 2017, with a confirmation of tender deadline in June next year.
South Africa staged the tournament in 1995, while France were 2007 hosts, but Ireland and Italy are in uncharted territory.
Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin said: "The candidate hosts now have a year to benefit from detailed knowledge-sharing and preparation, including digesting the detailed tender requirements and observing Rugby World Cup 2015 hosting, before the confirmation to tender deadline of June 2016.
"The announcement of the Rugby World Cup 2023 host in May 2017 will also provide the successful union with six years to prepare for the delivery of the event and maximise the benefits of observing the delivery of Japan 2019, the first Rugby World Cup to be hosted in Asia."
And World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset added: "Rugby World Cup is our flagship event, and must continue to inspire, to reach out and attract new participants and audiences while delivering the financial platform for rugby to continue its record growth.
"Hosting should be a true partnership and incentivise and excite host countries, and we are currently undertaking an extensive review of the hosting model to strengthen the partnership between host and owner and further the benefits for all as we enter an exciting new era for our sport."
The England-hosted 2015 World Cup kicks off at Twickenham on September 18.