Pat Hickey warns Rugby World Cup bid will need more work

‘You don’t get this just by saying, ‘We’re beautiful Ireland’

Pat Hickey (right), OCI President, with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne at the launch of a campaign on sports funding in 2009. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pat Hickey (right), OCI President, with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne at the launch of a campaign on sports funding in 2009. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 12:00

Pat Hickey has warned those involved with Ireland’s bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup that they have much behind-the- scenes work to do if they are going to secure enough votes when the time comes. Bids do not have to be lodged until 2016, with a final decision to be made the following year.

But Hickey, on foot of conversations he has had in Sochi with IOC members who represent various rugby unions and associations, fears the Irish bid hasn’t yet made the impact worldwide he feels it needs to.

“I had dinner with Bernard Lapasset the other night and he spoke to me about the World Cup bid. I spoke as well to the president of European rugby who’s a Romanian (Octavian Morariu). They were asking me about the bid but I didn’t know an awful lot about the set-up.

“Like, I knew the Government had announced they were going to put a bid together, but I tell you, they’d want to get their act together if they’re going to get the votes. You don’t get this just by saying, ‘We’re beautiful Ireland ’. It’s like a bid for an Olympic Games. The word around the table is that huge opposition is coming from Argentina and South Africa.

“So I phoned Michael Ring, because, you now, I wanted to help out. And Michael said it’s not clear yet how everything is going to work, but that they’re confident enough.

“But I don’t know if they realise how much work they have to do in places like Georgia, in Romania, Moldova, all those places. I think they think that getting the home unions will be enough.

“I don’t think the people in charge of the Irish bid have taken this into account. I’ve smelt a danger here that it’s going to be political. If they want me to help them, I’ll help them. If they don’t, so be it.”

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