The IRFU took the decision to seriously assess bidding for a Rugby World Cup having observed the manner in which the 2011 tournament was run in New Zealand and the success the tournament achieved both for New Zealand and the game of rugby worldwide, writes Philip Browne.
Central to the IRFU’s deliberations was the availability of suitable stadiums in which to host the tournament.
From the outset it was apparent that without the co-operation the GAA it simply would not be possible to make a serious bid.
The GAA stepped forward to meet the challenge and made their stadiums available. Within the GAA mix of stadiums was the prospect of a magnificent new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, bringing with it all the wonderful tradition, which can only come from generations of dramatic team and heroic individual performances, combined with the splendour of a modern stadium.
45,000 spectators in a state of the art, multi-purpose stadium is an exciting prospect but for the IRFU it was seen as an absolute gem to boost Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid.
A perfect blend for spectators and players, both obviously at the centre of the bid effort.
Beyond all that is the marvellous location of this hallowed ground, within walking distance of the city centre, perfect for adding to the colour and atmosphere, and generating a unique vibe for spectators.
Ireland is unique in this regard and such wonderfully atmospheric and intimate grounds do not exist in some of other countries vying for the right to host the biggest event in rugby.
The experts who visited Pairc Ui Chaoimh, while it was still under construction, could see the great potential the ground had to offer.
As the ground neared completion the experts could not contain their excitement at the prospect of hosting a major world cup fixture at this iconic ground.
How wonderful it would be to see Ireland play one of its matches here or indeed to have any of the great rugby powers displaying their skills in this state of the art stadium.
Ireland’s bid, on behalf of the entire island, has received unequivocal support from all sectors.
This support is best exemplified by the immediate and enthusiastic response from actor Liam Neeson when asked if he would be prepared to do the voice over for the video produced to introduce Ireland’s bid – Ready for the World.
It sets the tone for Ireland’s bid and I would recommend taking the time to view it on www.irishrugby.ie.
We are now in a critical phase of the 2023 Rugby World Cup bidding process. Ireland’s bid was formally lodged with World Rugby on June 1, the bid team will make a formal presentation to World Rugby on September 25 and the final decision will be announced on November 15.
Let nobody be under any illusion but that this is a hugely competitive process. We could expect nothing less, for the prize is massive.
This event, which it is estimated could be worth in the order of €1.5billion to the economy, brings with it exceptional prospects for Ireland; an opportunity to showcase the island to the world as a vibrant and progressive land, which plays host to most of the world’s leading technology companies; an island which carries wonderful attractions for the visitor; an island which offers the warmest welcome in the world.
And above all else a location which has the experience to host an event as big as the Rugby World Cup.
A central plank to the bid was the nature of our stadiums, close to town and city centres, each with their own unique qualities and representative of their communities.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
As we welcome the culmination of the project development and the doors open for a wonderful new chapter in the life of this iconic ground the IRFU offers its heartiest congratulations and best wishes to the Cork County Board and the GAA on their foresight and conviction in delivering for Cork, and indeed all of Ireland, a stadium of which the entire country can be proud.
Philip Browne is chief executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
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