The IRFU's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup could, if successful, benefit the Irish economy to the tune of €800 million plus.
The union has announced the constituents of an oversight board that will draw together the financial and logistical strands required to complete the tender process.
Ireland are competing against South Africa, Italy and France for the right to host the global tournament.
A spokesperson for the union suggested the cost of the Irish tender process will be €1.5 million to €2 million.
World Rugby has confirmed that the successful bid will be confirmed in May 2017 following a phased process that begins next month.
The sport’s international governing body has also invited the prospective 2023 World Cup hosts to a two-day information-sharing briefing on June 4th-5th in London.
England will stage this year’s World Cup, which takes place in September and October, while Japan has won the battle to host the tournament in 2019.
Two of Ireland’s rivals South Africa (1995, when they won) and France (2007) have already successfully staged the global event. Indeed the South Africans have been part of the tender process for the last three global tournaments, losing out in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
The fact that the next two World Cups will be staged in the Northern Hemisphere may be a consideration when it comes to awarding the rights to 2023.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand generated net profits of €120 million for World Rugby, while the projections for the 2015 tournament in England are for a net surplus of over €200 million and for the 2019 World Cup in Japan the projected profit is €150-€160 million.
The expression of interest phase of the process provides prospective hosts with a year to benefit from the detailed knowledge-sharing and preparation window ahead of the release of host selection tender documentation in May 2016.
The successful candidate will be confirmed 12 months later in May 2017, thereby offering a six-year lead-in to the event to work with the tournament owners, Rugby World Cup Limited, and observe how Japan prepares and discharges its responsibility in 2019.
The IRFU, the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive confirmed the appointment of a chairman, Dick Spring, a vice-chairman, Dr David Dobbin, and a number of board members in Hugo MacNeill, Philip Browne, Paraic Duffy and Shane Logan, along with a bid ambassador in Brian O'Driscoll to the oversight board for Ireland's 2023 bid.
Spring is a former tánaiste and Lansdowne and Ireland fullback, while Dobbin is the group chief executive of Dale Farm and chairman of the management committee of the Ulster Branch IRFU.
MacNeill, one of Ireland’s all-time great fullbacks, is the chair of the joint RWC working group, and, along with
, staged the “Peace International” between Ireland and the Barbarians at Lansdowne Road in May, 1996.
Browne, chief executive of the IRFU, and Logan, chief executive officer of Ulster Rugby, will be joined as board of directors by Duffy, the director general of the GAA; an organisation without whose tangible commitment and support Irish rugby would not be in a position to bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. O’Driscoll needs little introduction.
Tenders have already been issued by the IRFU’s bid team for work on a number of areas such as finance, logistics, stadia selection, ticketing and marketing.