Ireland bids for Women's Rugby World Cup 

A Women’s World Cup on Irish soil in 2017 has every chance of success and boosting the bid for the men’s 2023 event, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has said, after submitting a bid to host the tournament in two years.

Ireland bids for Women's Rugby World Cup 

With the women’s game at an all-time high in terms of interest and participation following the 2013 Six Nations Grand Slam and the victory over New Zealand at last summer’s World Cup en route to the semi-finals, the Irish Rugby Football Union yesterday revealed it had submitted a bid to governing body World Rugby to host the 2017 championship in Dublin and Belfast.

Ireland looks likely to be competing with England, the only other country known to have expressed an interest, in staging the tournament, and if successful when World Rugby makes it decision in May, would host the pool stages at University College Dublin before moving to Belfast for the semi-finals and finals at Queens University Sport and the newly developed Ravenhill, all described by Browne as “world-leading facilities”.

“World Rugby were quite keen that we would bid because they like to spread these tournaments around the bigger countries, so we looked at it very carefully, at the pros and cons of it, and decided that it was something we needed to do,” IRFU chief executive Browne told the Irish Examiner.

“We’d be confident we can put on a show as good as anyone else. We’ve got good facilities in UCD, good facilities in Queens and Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill in Belfast is just a fantastic stadium. The public enjoy coming out and supporting whatever sport it is, but certainly supporting an Irish team. So I think it has every chance of success.”

Browne said there was no commercial motive to staging the tournament, rather it would help to grow the game by encouraging increased participation among girls and women.

“One of the key motivations behind this is that the women’s team has been putting in some tremendous performances over the past few years and the sport has been growing significantly. In 2003, we had 500 women playing the game and we now have 4000. So there’s huge growth and there’s huge potential for more growth. Bringing the World Cup here in 2017 would bring the cream of international women’s rugby and it’s another way of showcasing the game.”

Another motive is also the positive impact a successful bid would have on efforts to bring the men’s 2023 Rugby World Cup to these shores and the massive financial boost that would bring, with this year’s hosts England expected to benefit from a £2bn (€2.7bn) injection into the British economy this autumn.

“One of the by-products of all this is that it demonstrates that we’re capable of operating a tournament cross-border and in the context of the 2023 World Cup bid, that’s obviously a useful thing to have.

“Every bid stands on its own merits but it’s important that we’re seen to be supporting World Rugby’s international tournament programme as well and that’s at the back of the mind as well, but the primary motivator is leveraging the success of the women’s team over the last couple of years and use that with a Women’s World Cup to try and drive women’s rugby on across the island.”

The men’s 2019 World Cup, meanwhile moved a step closer to fruition yesterday when governing body World Rugby unveiled its chosen venues for the tournament to be hosted by Japan.

The first Rugby World Cup in Asia will be contested in 12 cities across Japan, including Tokyo and Yokohama as well as Kamaishi, a city devastated by the 2011 earthquake.

World Rugby announced the successful stadia simultaneously at its headquarters in Dublin and in Tokyo, home to the 80,000-capacity New National Stadium, which will host the opening game of the 2019 tournament and the World Cup final. Ireland have visited Japan just once, playing a two-Test tour in 2005 that was captained in the absence of Brian O’Driscoll and his fellow Lions by David Humphreys.

They won both games handily but will not be revisiting either of the venues from that tour. Irish soccer fans, though, will remember the 72,327-capacity International Stadium in Yokohama, where Mick McCarthy’s side dispatched Saudi Arabia 3-0 in their final 2002 World Cup group game.

Speaking in Dublin, Rugby World Cup Limited chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This is an important milestone for the tournament. Now we know exactly where the matches will be staged in Japan and, more importantly, the people of those cities and fans around the world can start planning for the big event. It will be a wonderful tournament.”

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