NOT ONLY ARE we going to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, we’ll probably win the flippn’ thing.
So, in the third part of our venue watch we turn our faces north to poke around the fine establishments owned by Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby.
On Friday,we took a look at six of the major candidates in Munster and yesterday, it was Leinster’s turn to be sized up.
Here are five venues that could potentially host the great and the good of world rugby in a decade’s time.
St Tiernach’s Park
Ulster GAA’s go-to venue for their annual Championship showpiece boasts a capacity of 36,000. As with most respectable GAA grounds, it has only one covered stand to accommodate for the dignitaries, but what it lacks in shelter it makes up for in sheer volume of bodies.
The atmosphere would likely be diminished slightly if the hills became seated and covered, but there’s enough of a structure already in place to make it one of the easier options for development.
An original Irish rugby venue, the newly developed north Belfast ground is an absolute certainty to play a part in any World Cup plan.
Currently, Ulster’s home is missing a stand, but once the entire project is completed the 18,000 capacity stadium will also house a team gym and the Nevin Spence education centre. South Africa would surely consider making a base here.
Across town, the slightly less swanky home of Antrim GAA says they can jam 32,000 into the west Belfast venue.
At present, the ground has an idyllic (in summer at least) grassy verge behind one goal, but that’ll soon disappear if the plans to renovate the venue into a modern 38,000 seater stadium are fully carried through.
Kingspan Breffni Park
Another border region GAA venue with a massive potential capacity. It’s unlikely that both Cavan and Monaghan will have a venue, but either ground would be a major contender for the (Croke Park plus) five GAA grounds the IRFU needs to put its bid forward.
Redeveloped slightly in the last decade, Breffni Park was the host of this year’s visit of Australia for the international rules series. The Rugby World Cup pool stages will surely throw up games with a similar level of apathy – Canada v Romania anyone?
If previous World Cups are anything to go by, many pool games featuring tier two nations or below will not require anything close a 30,000 capacity stadium.
Ravenhill is a natural choice because of its history as a rugby venue, but Omagh’s 18,000 capacity venue was the first GAA ground in Ulster to be floodlit. And with Tyrone’s Garvaghy training facility just 20 minutes drive away, it’s another very attractive option for any team to set up base.
Tomorrow TheScore.ie will examine the stadiums in Connacht that may be included.