The World Rugby Council will now meet on 15 November in London to vote on the next host.
The last time the World Cup visited South Africa was in 1995; one of the most memorable editions of the tournament as the Springboks defeated the All Blacks in an epic final, it was an event that united a crumbled country.
Bill Beaumont, Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman and head of the sport's governing body World Rugby, said South Africa had emerged as clearly ahead in all seven key criteria such as stadia and financial assurances.
According to the report card that World Rugby has issued after its independent examination of the bids, South Africa outshone its competitors in the categories of "venues and host cities" and "tournament infrastructure".
Also, the fact that South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup means that the country has at least eight all-seater modern stadiums to host the Rugby World Cup.
"This nomination is reward for an outstanding bid in which no detail was too small to be addressed or any question not comprehensively answered", said South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux. "We are 100% confident that the commitments we made in our document will be delivered".
From the above criteria, South Africa ranked highest with 78.97%, France second with 75.88% and Ireland third with 72.25%.
"Regardless of the final decision it should not stop us from constantly being on the lookout for bringing large scale sporting tournaments to Ireland with Derry and wider region being part of those plans".
"We didn't think we'd been behind South Africa in terms of organizing competitions".
Carlin tells the story of the moment on the day of the final when white South Africans took a man they once considered a terrorist into their hearts.
"There was a moment of jaw-dropping disbelief, a sharp collective intake of breath, and suddenly the crowd broke into a chant, which grew steadily louder, of 'Nelson!"
World Rugby's Council is expected to rubber-stamp the recommendation on November 15 - though it could still opt for any of the three bids. Ireland, on the other hand, have never exclusively held the World Cup, while it has been 22 years since the tournament visited the "Rainbow Nation" of South Africa.