€320m World Cup bid underwritten

Sports Minister Shane Ross

The Government yesterday agreed to formally underwrite an approximate €320m to host the Rugby World Cup in Ireland in 2023.

The all-Ireland bid has to be lodged to World Rugby in the coming weeks. In the absence of a Stormont administration, a letter of guarantee was sought and secured from the five main parties in the North to commit to their share of the costs.

The letter was signed by the DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, the Alliance Party, and the Ulster Unionists.

Expenditure for the tournament will be 85% guaranteed by Dublin and 15% by the North’s administration, information obtained by the Irish Examiner reveals.

Government sources say they expect that most of the funds will be recouped from the tournament.

Sports Minister Shane Ross briefed his Cabinet colleagues and won their agreement to proceed with the bid.

Ireland is one of three countries bidding to host the tournament in 2023.

Officials are increasingly confident Ireland stands a strong chance of beating France and South Africa to host the tournament, as preparations are finalised for an application next month.

Money being guaranteed for the bid includes €120m to host the tournament, while another €200m will be underwritten for operational costs, including redeveloping stadiums and policing.

The formal letter from Government to guarantee the €320m was submitted last September to the World Rugby Council, the body overseeing the selection process for the 20-nation tournament.

It is understood that large portions of the money will not need to be paid up front. Of the €120m to host the tournament, just 5% of those funds are expected to be paid in advance while the remainder of the tournament fee could be paid after 2023, say Government sources.

An oversight body for the all-island bid includes chairman and former tánaiste, Dick Spring; Ireland and Leinster rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll; and Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne.

The 12 stadiums proposed for the bid, including a number of GAA venues, have been finalised as part of the formal application. They are: Croke Park, the Aviva Stadium, and RDS in Dublin; Casement Park and Kingspan Stadium in Belfast; Pairc Uí Chaoimh, Cork; Thomond Park, Limerick; Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney; Pearse Stadium, Galway; MacHale Park in Castlebar; Nowlan Park, Kilkenny; and Celtic Park in Derry.


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