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Paraic Duffy: 'The Government will have to pick up the tab'

The GAA Director-General believes that it will fall to the Government to finance the upgrading of stadia if the IRFU 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is successful.

Could the Irish rugby team play in Croke Park?
Could the Irish rugby team play in Croke Park?
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

GAA DIRECTOR-GENERAL Padraic Duffy believes that it will fall to the Government to finance the upgrading of stadia if a potential IRFU bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is successful.

The IRFU are currently undertaking a feasibility study into the possibility of bidding to host the event.

But a critical factor will be whether the GAA’s Congress in March will support the use of their stadia for the competition.

A Central Council meeting last August agreed to place a motion on the Congress agenda which is seeking to amend a GAA rule that would permit six GAA grounds to be used by the IRFU in a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The GAA Director-General, speaking yesterday on ‘Saturday Sport’ on RTÉ Radio 1, lent the weight of his support to a prospective bid for the prestigious event.

But with some GAA stadia requiring redevelopment to bring them up to the necessary standards to host games in the competition, Duffy insisted it would be up to the Government ‘to pick up the tab’ in that instance.

“I think if the Government wants to bring this to Ireland, they have to realize this is not a money-making enterprise for either the IRFU or the GAA. The Government will have to pick up the tab essentially.

“If the RWC is to start in 2023, we simply don’t have the resources to bring those stadia to the level that the Rugby World Cup organizers would expect. But I think that everyone understands that.

“We’ve already committed ourselves to major redevelopment of Casement Park and the redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh will hopefully start over the next few years. We’ll be expected to contribute to that at central level and I think that we should.”

“The IRFU have approached the GAA in a very professional way and have said they need the support of the GAA because they don’t have the grounds themselves.

“No decision has been made on the grounds. But Croke Park would be an obvious one and the newly developed Casement Park. Hopefully Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be re-developed in the next few years and that would be an obvious one as well.

“After that there is a list of possibilities. That’s for the IRFU to decide.”

GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Support

Duffy is hopeful that the GAA’s Congress in April will throw their weight behind the project and rejected arguments that the GAA should not be helping opposition sports.

“I would hope that they (Congress) will give permission. The same arguments were made when Lansdowne Road was closed for redevelopment, that we shouldn’t let rugby and soccer into Croke Park. That was the right thing to do and the GAA did it.

“In the case of the Rugby World Cup, it would have a huge economic benefit for the country. I wouldn’t be happy if as an organization, we said no. What does that say about the GAA and our place in modern Ireland?

“I do accept that there will be a promotional value for the IRFU but there’ll also be a benefit for us. I would hope our grounds would be developed to a standard that we couldn’t otherwise do ourselves.

“But more importantly it would show the GAA is a mature organization that makes decisions not only for the benefit of ourselves but for the country generally.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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