New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Jock Hobbs accepted with delight and humility. "Winning the right to host in 2011 is an enormous honour and privilege but also an enormous responsibility," he said. "I want to acknowledge Japan and South Africa. It was a very tough day and we feel their disappointment. We thank the IRB councillors and we won't let them down."
The Japan Rugby Football Union made a simple and gracious statement. "We pray for the success of the 2011 RWC in New Zealand. Thank you for supporting Japan."
The three tendering nations made their final presentations earlier in the day beforea first round of voting. South Africa were eliminated in that first ballot, making the final vote a two-way race between New Zealand and Japan.
South African Rugby Football Union deputy CEO Nveleli Ncula was stunned by South Africa's early elimination. "We thought we'd done our homework," he said. "This has come as a complete shock. But in a secret ballot anything can happen."
Speaking after the final vote was announced, NZRU CEO Chris Moller said that South Africa's two votes in the second ballot were crucial. "At a SANZAR executive committee meeting on Tuesday," he revealed "the South African president (Brian van Rooyen) said, voluntarily and very generously, that in the event of South Africa being eliminated their two votes were in New Zealand's corner. That assurance, that SANZAR solidarity, meant a lot to us personally and obviously it meant a lot in real terms where the decision was concerned as well."
Moller spoke about the successful New Zealand presentation. "Jock made a very impassioned plea about New Zealand as a rugby country, and Prime Minister Helen Clark spoke about the support of the whole nation. Then Tana (Umaga, All Black captain) made a wonderfully powerful and emotional presentation. He spoke about being both a Samoan and a New Zealander, about players wanting to play in full stadiums in a safe and secure environment for family and friends."