SHOCK. Horror. Another World Cup tournament host announcement has been smeared by angst, contentious backroom deals and threats of reprisals. The grubby side of rugby politics has again risen to the surface.

The International Rugby Board council members are winging their way to Dublin, where tomorrow they are expected to announce England and Japan as the respective hosts of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup tournaments.

This is no great surprise, as the Rugby World Cup board has recommended the two nations and even though they still require the vote of the IRB council, they should be rubber-stamped. But behind the scenes there has been controversy and anger among rival bidders, who believe they may have been dudded by the IRB.

Tuesday's council meeting will not be as friendly as some are making out and it may require a long Guinness-soaked bender in a Dublin pub for everyone to sort out their differences.

South Africa and Italy are known to be irritated that their strong bids to host the tournaments have been denigrated by some at the IRB, prompting a wave of "please explain" letters to the board.
Monday Maul has been told the IRB's replies have been far from satisfactory. Accusations are flying in all directions.

South Africa are particularly incensed and understandably so, especially as they were basically begged by several high-ranking IRB officials to bid for the tournament. They then produced a good bid, which attracted South African government backing.

The Italian bid, which also involved government backing, similarly had many compelling features and to some decision makers appeared more alluring and compatible than the England or Japanese bids.
Adding to the turmoil are claims that important bid information had somehow fallen into opposition hands, while it is believed Scotland and Ireland are not convinced by England's bid, including the suggestion it could already be a "done deal". They may instead side with South Africa, which will tighten the vote.

Table thumping on Tuesday is inevitable, but whether it makes a difference is debatable, especially as England are pushing the line of producing a surplus of at least £60 million ($120m) more than other bids.

And that should satisfy the IRB majority, who love the smell of big bucks. Remember the kerfuffle when the Herald last year revealed that the IRB was demanding an exorbitant £100 million up front tournament guarantee fee for 2015, and £120 million for 2019? This, on top of the host union having to cover all the tournament costs.

Following complaints, some months later the fee was cut back to £80 million for 2015 and £96 million for 2019.

It remains a big whack. Yet those at the IRB can defend themselves by saying they need such funds in reserve because the next World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand is looming as a financial disaster. A huge loss, estimated to be more than $30 million, is predicted, making it necessary for the 2015 tournament to bolster the balance sheet.

Yet what will occur around the IRB round table tomorrow night is nothing new. The history of determining World Cup hosts has always involved self-interests, horse-trading and the old boys network.

Monday Maul was in Dublin four years ago when New Zealand was handed the 2011 World Cup, even though Japan was the better bid. That afternoon, Monday Maul had lunch with a major IRB official, who said Japan was no chance because "too many involved in the vote hadn't forgotten the Second World War".

Sadly, he was serious. And that decision could easily come to burn RWC and the IRB.
Apart from the financial fallout and small grounds, accommodation for fans in New Zealand during the next World Cup remains an issue. There simply won't be enough rooms, prompting one NZ politician to recently say cruise ships off the coast could be the answer. Their solution to the bed shortage is "double bunking".

Ridiculous, but true.