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Why Ireland can convert 2023 World Cup bid into a roaring success

Clever approach has put the tournament within reach for the IRFU.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A BID TO host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 has been enthusiastically received by the Irish public. And understandably so.

A sporting event of that magnitude would have a huge effect on the island of Ireland — rugby fans or not.

With South Africa also keen to host the event for the first time since 1995, it is expected to be a close race. France and Italy, who have both also expressed interest, are viewed as outsiders.

New Zealand’s hosting of the 2011 edition made 2023 a realistic target for Ireland. Our relevant infrastructure more than matches that of the Kiwis.

Sure, the hallowed place that rugby occupies in New Zealand society is also a factor but you would expect there would be no shortage of support for the event on these shores.

The Kiwis were praised for the welcoming atmosphere they created in 2011. As fans explored the nation in camper vans they were never short on warm greetings.

Children stood at the side of rural roads waving the appropriate flags for oncoming traffic while supporters couldn’t buy petrol without being wished well at the weekend.

It is hard to imagine anything different in Ireland should the IRFU win the rights in 2023. While the costs of staging such an event would be enormous, the social benefits and boost for tourism would surely outweigh them.

The IRFU are leaving nothing to chance, their recruitment of advisers involved in the last three Olympic games and this year’s Rugby World Cup speaks volumes. Former Tánaiste and Ireland international Dick Spring’s role as bid chairman looks a sharp move.

The former Labour Party leader has been humourous and intelligent in interviews to date and his confirmation that Ireland have already secured 40% of the vote bodes well. And he admits he has plans in place to secure additional votes over the next year or so, with the host nation to be selected by May 2017.

Of course Ireland can’t compete with England when it comes to sporting infrastructure but having the use of the GAA’s stadiums is a massive bargaining tool for Spring and Co.

Additionally, with the promise of vociferous fans and a receptive public there are plenty of reasons for optimism that 2023 will see Ireland, as a solo bidder, host its biggest sporting event yet.

2015 started the process, 2016 could be the deal-maker or breaker. Exciting times ahead.

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About the author:

Alan Waldron

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