The Italian Rugby Federation has announced they are withdrawing their bid to host the 2023 World Cup.
The news is a massive boost to Ireland’s hopes of hosting the tournament, leaving just three nations – Ireland, France and South Africa in the running.
Ireland officially lodged a bid to host the event at the start of this month.
In a statement, World Rugby said:
“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.”
The statement also said that the Irish, French and South African applications are currently before a technical review group.
Applicants who meet the group’s criteria will move into a “candidate phase”, which is due to being on 1 November.
The host nation will be selected on November 20.