The Rugby World Cup should return to South Africa in 2023, and the tournament should be expanded to 24 teams. The other three candidates are Ireland, France and Italy. Were any of these successful, that would mean a third straight World Cup in the Northern Hemisphere, even though it is the Southern Hemisphere which overwhelmingly dominates. It would also entail a return to the Six Nations for the fifth time in just ten tournaments, which is a little ridiculous for a sport with over one hundred affiliated member nations and self-professed global pretentions. Should it go to Ireland, that would also mean, technically-speaking, that the United Kingdom were involved to some degree in hosting the event for the fifth time, given at least a few of the games would be staged north of the border. This projects a very poor image to the international community. Is rugby still in its crib? Has it failed to sever the umbilical cord and move away from its original birth place? Is it just another tin-pot code with a limited international following, or is it a genuine global sport that can rotate its showpiece event around the continents? France, meanwhile, hosted the World Cup as recently as eight years ago, and was also a co-host in 1991 and 1999. That leaves Italy, to my mind the most attractive of the European bids, as it is a newcomer to the heavyweight ranks with a large number of registered players. However, World Rugby might want to go with a more established rugby playing nation for its 10th World Cup. Japan is already facing problems as it prepares to stage the 2019 event, with its new Olympic Stadium having now been removed from the venue list. As for South Africa, it has the biggest and best rugby-purpose stadia in the world - with the possible exception of England, which has just hosted the event for the second time. It has the second largest number of registered players (also behind England), and it is the second most successful rugby playing nation after New Zealand. By the time 2023 rolls around, an entire generation will have grown up since the last time the tournament was held in South Africa. This, even though the 1995 installment was one of the most successful and spectacular World Cups to date. So if New Zealand, Austrlalia and England can all host it twice, and France can be involved as either host or co-host on three occasions, why on earth shouldn't it return to South Africa in 2023? Why does World Rugby appear to have lost faith in the republic, having overlooked it for both 2011 and 2019? It's time to break the cycle. The World Cup can not continue to return to Western Europe on every second occasion. That is a myopic approach and anathema to the globalization cause. But it does need to return to the Southern Hemisphere in 2023 for what will be the first time in 12 years. Moreover, it needs to return to the African continent, one of the hotbeds of international rugby development in recent decades. This leads me to my final point in South Africa's favour. World Rugby officials have raised the possibility of an expanded tournament, and this is undoubtedly overdue. Again, with its vast array of rugby-purpose stadia, South Africa's credentials are unsurpassed as a potential host nation for a 24-team World Cup. The last - and only - increase in teams was from 16 to 20 in 1999. This appears to have been successful, judging by the improved performances of the fringe teams in New Zealand and England. In fact, no centuries have been recorded since 2003, while Japan's stunning victory over the Springboks this year suggests the days of foregone conclusions is World Cup rugby may be drawing to a close. That said, a lot of work needs to be done in the interim if the additional teams are going to be genuinely competitive. One of the biggest obstacles to the game's global development is the stratification of its international competitions. Not only are the elite championships closed-shop, but there is little interaction between the top teams and the emerging nations in between World Cups. How on earth are the up-and-comers supposed to be competitive in the big exam if they have been denied the lessons to prepare in between? New Zealand and Australia should be playing annual tests with the Pacific Islands and Japan, as should the Six Nations with their Eastern European neighbours. South Africa ought to engage Namibia in a 'Bledisloe Cup'-style annual trophy match, and Hong Kong and Korea should be playing in the Pacific Challenge tournament, alongside the Pacific Islands B teams and Argentina's 'Pampas,' with a possible view to future inclusion in the Pacific Nations Championship. In addition to this, would it not be a fairly straightforward exercise for Six Nations teams to stop in for tests against Namibia and Uruguay enroute to South Africa and Argentina, respectively - as well as the Pacific Islands while touring New Zealand or Australia? By the same token, how about the Southern Hemisphere teams playing Georgia, Romania or Russia on their Autumn tours to Europe? Argentina might even take on Spain or Portugal. If rugby is to more forward, it needs to expand its World Cup, and this can only be successful with a more integrated international rugby calendar.