GAA to open talks about making venues available for Rugby World Cup bid

Number of grounds likely to be made available for 2023 or 2027 IRFU bid

Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna

Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna


The GAA are to commence discussions with the IRFU on the preparation of a bid to host the rugby World Cup in 2023 or 2027.

This follows last Saturday’s vote by annual congress to endorse last summer’s decision by Central Council to make available a number of its grounds to facilitate the proposal.

It is assumed that CrokePark will be needed to host the final of the tournament, which requires a capacity of at least 60,000. Use of the other venues will be decided after discussions between the organisations.

“There’s been no practical consideration of this pending the decision of congress,” according to Peter McKenna, stadium director of CrokePark and the GAA’s commercial manager, “but now that the votes been taken the next step is to meet with the IRFU and get an idea of the requirements.

“We do know that there are slightly different requirements for different rounds of the competition and that significantly, terracing is allowed in rugby.”

 McKenna has experience of dealing with rugby criteria, as CrokePark hosted Six Nations matches between 2007 and 2010 while the Aviva Stadium was being constructed. The GAA headquarters venue also staged the 2009 ERC semi-final between Leinster and Munster, which attracted a then record attendance for a club rugby match.  

“Most obviously the television and media components of the bid would require a bit of work,” he says, “and this will pose a challenge. Our biggest stadium, CrokePark is well capable of hosting big televised occasions but as we found when staging Six Nations matches, international events involve a multiplicity of broadcasters and journalists.

 “But again this is something that we’ll discuss with the IRFU when we see the range of criteria from hotel infrastructure to airport capacity and the different requirements for different countries.

Ground capacities
 Aside from the 82,300-capacity CrokePark, the grounds involved and discussed by Central Council are: Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney (capacity 43,000), Páirc Uí­ Chaoimh in Cork (43,000), Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds (50,000), Pearse Stadium in Galway (30,000) and Casement Park in Belfast (32,000).

 In the coming years however both Páirc Uí­ Chaoimh and Casement Park are due to be redeveloped with the Cork venue’s capacity planned to rise to 50,000 and the Belfast venue due to increase its limit to 40,000.