Rugby World Cup bid: ‘We have a phenomenal chance of winning bid’

Ireland is in the final stages of competing to host the 2023 World Cup which could provide as much as a €2bn economic boost and a television audience of 4bn.

Liam Neeson, Brian O’Driscoll, and Dick Spring are among the names backing the bid to hold the event here in 2023, along with the governments on both sides of the border.

Yesterday the potential 12 venues — GAA and rugby grounds — selected for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2023 bid were announced at an event at the Aviva Stadium.

Croke Park, the Aviva, and the RDS would all hold matches in the capital, while Belfast would make use of Ravenhill and Casement Park. Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh is also on the list of stadia, as is Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, Thomond Park in Limerick, MacHale Park in Castlebar, Pearse Stadium in Galway, and Derry’s Celtic Park.

Ireland is now down to the final three nations — up against France and South Africa — in the competition to hold the event.

While the IRFU estimates the event would provide an €800m injection into the economy, Dublin Chamber of Commerce believes it could bring in as much as €2bn. As well as the economic benefit, the IRFU estimates the tournament would bring more than 450,000 visitors to Ireland, while the island would also be on show to a global audience — TV viewership for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England reached 4bn.

Dick Spring, the chairman of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2023 bid oversight board, yesterday formally announced Ireland’s entry into the candidate stage of the selection process.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll all attended yesterday’s launch.

Mr Kenny said hosting the tournament would bring the world to Ireland. “For many years, our sporting ambassadors have travelled the world, bringing colour, passion, and friendship to sporting events everywhere. Now we want to bring the world to Ireland,” he said.

Those in attendance were shown a new promotional video narrated by Liam Neeson, who waived any fee to help in the bid.

Sports Minister Shane Ross said he was confident the infrastructure and stadia upgrades could be carried out in time to host such a massive sporting event.

“If we win this bid we will be prepared for it,” he said.

“We have to make sure that the stadia are in good order, a lot of them are in mint order already but there are a few to be refurbished and we have got to see the infrastructure ready, but we are battle ready for this.

“We have got everything to offer, we have got the stadia, which is absolutely vital, we have got a fantastic rugby reputation, we have got the hotels, the hospitality, we have got everything to offer, I think we have a phenomenal chance of winning this bid now.”

O’Driscoll said he believed the country would get behind all teams involved in the tournament and the event would also provide an opportunity to welcome back the diaspora.

“I think the Irish people have an affinity with the entire world, I think we would see small towns and villages embrace second countries along with Ireland as their own and we would fill out stadia,” said the rugby legend.


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