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Local people are the key to Ireland's World Cup bid - Sebastian Coe

The man behind London 2012 has some words of advice for Leo Varadkar and the IRFU.

Coe was highly influential in London 2012's success.
Coe was highly influential in London 2012's success.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

IF IRELAND IS to launch a successful bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as looks increasingly likely, there will need to be influence and ideas from figures who have experience in the area.

There is no one more qualified to give advice than Sebastian Coe, a four-time Olympic medalist and the man who led London’s hugely successful 2012 hosting of the Olympic Games.

Coe was the driving force behind last year’s event, using his profile to garner international support and acting as chairman of the Organising Committee. With Ireland’s potential bid to host the Rugby World Cup looking more and more like a reality, the 57-year-old was asked what the country needed to be aware of as they enter the fray.

Speaking in Dublin today, Coe pointed to the fact that much of his vision for London 2012 was based around ensuring the event’s legacy would involve more children playing sports. In that vein, hosting the World Cup in Ireland could be the springboard the IRFU needs to push rugby towards being a majority sport here.

For me, it had to be very clear; I could not see in my life time, a better opportunity to get kids playing sport. It was always going to be about using the [London] games to inspire more young people to take up sport. That was a vision that nobody could argue about. Everybody was able to come in behind one vision.

“If you say ‘We’re going to get lots more kids playing rugby,’ how are you going to do that? You have to be able to establish very early on why you’re doing it. The ‘why?’ is all about the vision. The most important part of that is not that the vision wins you the right to stage the event, but it is what you deliver by.

“I think if you’ve got young people at the centre of your vision, you can’t go far wrong.”

imageCoe will play a key role in organising the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. PA Wire/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Coe stresses that winning bids are based around the ‘Why?’ rather than the ‘How?’ He feels that most countries can demonstrate that they have the infrastructural capabilities to host big events, but that the reasons for actually wanting to do so must be clear and convincing.

Leo Varadkar yesterday outlined his belief that Ireland has the transport, accommodation and stadia-related aspects of a bid largely in place, and went on to highlight his desire to see the World Cup leave behind a legacy of unifying the country. In Coe’s opinion, that is the right route but the key for Ireland is getting local people behind the bid.

Ireland’s people need to want this, according to the double Olympic champion.

20 or 30 years ago, it was enough to say ‘We want to stage a great event.’ Everybody understands that you’re wanting to bring the best athletes and players to the country, people get that. Now, they ask the next question; ‘What’s the legacy to your sport?’”

“There are always two questions that anyone must ask; How? and Why? Everybody answers the ‘how?’ first, and I don’t dismiss that. But you need to really be able to demonstrate, particularly to local communities, why you’re doing this.

“People tend – if they’re involved in the planning or delivery of the games – to think that the Olympic committee or IRB is the most demanding stakeholder [in the process of winning bids], but the most important people you have to take with you on that journey are the local people.”

Would you support a bid from Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup?


Poll Results:

No (654)
Yes (523)


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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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