Japan, New Zealand and South Africa have formally submitted bids to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
South Africa won the World Cup on home soil in 1995
The International Rugby Board (IRB) said all three countries had submitted written confirmation of their intention to tender by the 31 January deadline.
"They represent three of our five qualifying regions: Africa, Oceania and Asia," said IRB chairman Syd Millar.
The bidding countries must submit their tournament tenders by 13 May and the host union will be chosen in November.
Millar reserved special mention for Japan, which co-hosted the 2002 World Cup and wants to bring the tournament to a country outside one of rugby's traditional strongholds.
"The growing development and popularity of rugby is highlighted in Japan being the first Asian country to tender for the tournament," he said.
South Africa's bid got parliamentary backing last month, but the sport's governing body was told it needed to restore credibility to the sport first following allegations of racism.
New Zealand was to have co-hosted the 2003 World Cup with Australia but the IRB and Rugby World Cup Ltd handed Australia the sole rights after a bitter dispute.
South Africa, in 1995, and New Zealand, in 1987, both won the World Cup on home soil.