Cross-Border bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup announced

‘I am absolutely confident that Ireland will host the 2023 rugby world cup’ - Taoiseach

 

A cross-Border bid for Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was formally launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Armagh city today. “This is a bid to win,” said the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny travelled to Ireland international Tommy Bowe’s alma mater, the Royal School in Armagh, to join Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness, several other Government and Northern Executive Ministers, rugby internationals, students and Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) officials in announcing plans to try to bring the world cup to Ireland in nine years time.

While Ireland is expected to face fierce opposition from countries such as Italy and Argentina and other southern hemisphere countries who have already staged the tournament, Mr Kenny was bullish that by working with the Northern Executive and the IRFU Ireland would be successful.

“I am absolutely confident that Ireland will host the 2023 rugby world cup,” said Mr Kenny.

“We have the fans, the stadiums, and the accessibility to make it a world cup to remember. Irish people love our sport. We are passionate about sport and celebrate it. We want to share the Irish sporting experience with the world by inviting the world to Ireland.”

Mr Kenny said a cross-border workshop would be held in May about how to put in a “serious” application to win “one of the outstanding sporting events on the planet”.

It is estimated that pursuing the bid will cost £1.5 million (€1.9 million) while actually being successful would cost in the region of £100 million (€127 million).

The decision is due to be made in 2017. The IRFU believes the World Cup has the potential to attract more than 350,000 visitors to Ireland in 2023.

The GAA has agreed it would allow use of some of its stadiums for the tournament such as Croke Park, where potentially the final would be played, and Casement Park in Belfast which will become a 40,000-seater facility when its rebuilding is carried out.

Mr Robinson said he fully supported the bid, adding that the late Jack Kyle would have been “proud” to see such ambition.

“This bid shows the ambition of the Northern Ireland Executive and our determination to bring world class international sporting events to Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Northern Ireland has demonstrated that whatever the event, whatever the occasion, we deliver. Regardless of whether it is cycling, golf, the World Police and Fire Games and now rugby I have no doubt this will be a resounding success both off and on the field,” he added.

Mr McGuinness said a “robust and compelling” bid would be put together to bring the “sporting spectacle” to Ireland.

Speaking about the benefits for the island, he said: “this would involve teams coming to Ireland weeks in advance for training camps providing a major boost to the tourism industry and that’s before the supporters from across the world descend. In 2007 the Rugby World Cup broadcast in over 200 countries and attracted a television audience of 4.2 billion, so the potential is huge.”

He thanked the IRFU and the GAA for their “collaboration and foresight”.

“This bid shows Ireland has the appetite to host an international sporting event on a scale never seen before in our history, and we are determined to make it a winning bid.”

Speaking at the launch, Andrew Trimble said the Rugby World Cup would help “bring people together”.

“It is an opportunity for everybody to celebrate and get behind rugby,” he said. “It would be brilliant for rugby and brilliant for sport in general in Ireland.”

The decision to make the bid was taken following 10 months of work of a cross-border working group chaired by former Irish international Hugo McNeill.

McNeill said he believed Ireland had a “very good and credible” chance of success.

“I genuinely believe we can put on a welcome like no other country.”

Among the internationals also present at the launch were Robbie Henshaw and Paddy Jackson.

Next year’s world cup will be staged in England and the 2019 tournament in Japan.

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