South Africa beat England to win the 2007 World Cup in France
England are close to winning the right to stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup after organisers recommended their bid to the International Rugby Board (IRB).
The IRB council will make their final decision on 28 July, but the decision of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) to back England is a key development.
England are up against South Africa, Japan and Italy for 2015, with Japan being recommended as hosts for 2019.
However South Africa say they have not given up of hosting the 2015 World Cup.
"We are very disappointed not to have won the board's recommendation but we have not given up," said South Africa Rugby Union deputy president and bid chairman Mark Alexander.
"We met and frequently exceeded every criteria of the tender document and we will now have to examine the findings of the report presented by RWCL to the board.
"Our congratulations go to the recommended bidders - they have been working for their union and their nations as we have - but we will be looking for some clarifications on the recommendations from the IRB."
England would use Wembley, Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium as venues for the tournament, with the final to be played at Twickenham.
They also hope to stage games at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, even though Wales would not be co-hosts for the tournament.
RFU chairman Martyn Thomas said: "The RFU is delighted that Rugby World Cup Limited has decided to recommend England to the IRB Council as the host for RWC 2015.
"When we presented to the council in May we said that in the current difficult economic environment we could deliver a low-risk, high-return tournament that would leave a lasting legacy for the global game.
"We would like to reiterate that commitment and promise that we will pack iconic stadia full of excited fans and that we will give the game the best possible global platform on which to showcase itself to the world.
"We are truly excited about the opportunity to host the third largest sporting tournament in the world and fervently hope that the recommendation is accepted in July."
Having the World Cup in England would generate the type of revenue the RWCL believe will allow the IRB to take it into the emerging market of Japan four years later.
RWCL chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "As the revenue generated from the RWC is vital to the IRB's ongoing development plans (there is a preference for it) to be held in one of the major rugby markets on a regular basis.
"However, the commercial success of the RWC also means we can now consider placing the tournament in developing rugby markets to both reflect and assist the game's continued strategic growth.
"It is all about finding the right combination. The IRB council's decision to award two tournaments simultaneously has assisted in that vision.
"A tournament in England would allow the IRB to maximise funding available for investment in the game through a strong commercial programme and a great RWC showcase."
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