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Readers' Blog: Forget rugby, it’s time to fund other, ‘smaller’ sports

I wish to demur from what is supposed to be grave national insult and disappointment that Ireland was not awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup. 

To enter the bidding process for this vanity project, the Irish state underwrote a €200m guarantee to World Rugby against any loss at the event. Such willing largesse clearly demonstrates the effective apartheid that exists in the funding of Irish sport. The three big ‘semi-state’ sports — rugby, soccer, and GAA were all the main beneficiaries of this event if it went ahead with no risk to their own finances. They have already had close to €250m granted to their two big Dublin stadia. The supposed ‘glasnost’ displayed by the GAA in opening its stadia is a shrewd ‘no brainer’. Some €30m was already given to the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh and €30m earmarked for upgrading Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium — the ultimate fantasy-venue that cannot even fill itself once every two years in hosting the only big match that’s played there.

Contrast the Government indulgence of the big boys with the fate of other sports whose endless quest for any facility goes unheeded. A cycling velodrome — planned to be one of the key features at Abbotstown but nothing in sight. A quarter-mile drag-racing track for those only occasionally allowed onto bumpy rural airfields? The Irish Real Tennis Championships are played in England every year because the State resolutely opposes any notion of opening the Dublin court it was bequeathed by the Guinness family 75 years ago!

So now that the State (ie, “we”) has been saved €200m by the good offices of World Rugby’s governors, perhaps our sports minister will go seek even a fraction of that for the small-fry who wait for the sporting crumbs that have been their lot to date. 

Ted Neville


Co Cork


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