PARIS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - France officially launched its bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Thursday with the French Rugby Federation (FFR) revealing 19 potential host cities and an environmentally friendly transport plan.
France, who last hosted the tournament 10 years ago, will compete with Ireland and South Africa for the 2023 hosting rights.
The FFR are playing catch-up on their rivals, however, as their bid had largely lain dormant until Bernard Laporte was elected the federation's president in Dec. 2016 and reaffirmed their desire to challenge. "France wants the Rugby World Cup," Laporte said on Thursday. "The France2023 bid is backed by 80 percent of French people.
"This World Cup will also be that of the 1,895 French rugby clubs. All of rugby will be positively impacted by the 2023 World Cup in France."
France will wear shirts carrying the #France2023 logo in their Six Nations clash with Scotland in Paris on Sunday, while former internationals Sebastien Chabal and Frederic Michalak were among several high-profile ambassadors unveiled to support the bid.
Nineteen potential host cities were also revealed, while an environmentally friendly transport plan involving electric busses is also being planned.
The FFR, however, have only a few months to make their case before World Rugby make their decision in November.
"The bid focuses on the product 'France'," added bid supervisor Claude Atcher. "The France of rugby, of course, but also the France of 'savoir-vivre' that makes our country the world's premier tourist destination with 85 million tourists per year.
"France knows how to do it, with sound infrastructure and the expertise in our country to put on global events."
France hosted last year's European soccer championship and are also competing to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
"We will have the pressure of getting the result on the pitch (against Scotland) and launching the bid appropriately," said France captain Guilhem Guirado.
Ireland have never before organised the World Cup on their own, while South Africa last played host to the tournament in 1995 and failed with bids in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Italy withdrew its bid in Sept. 2016 after failing to guarantee government support for staging the event. (Reporting by Ed Dove; Editing by Toby Davis)