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'Transport problems' rule Semple Stadium out of venue list for Rugby World Cup 2023 bid

There’s been anger that the Thurles venue was not selected.

A general view of Semple Stadium as the Kilkenny players warm up Semple Stadium in Thurles Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

SEMPLE STADIUM WAS ruled out of the running to be a venue in Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid due to ‘transport problems’ in Thurles.

There was anger amongst local Tipperary politicians over Semple Stadium’s omission after the longlist of 12 venues was announced at the launch of Ireland’s bid yesterday.

Dick Spring, the chairman of the board behind Ireland’s bid, revealed the problem with the Thurles venue this morning when speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1.

“An expert team came in from Rugby World and they made their assessment and they just felt that the transport problems in particular I think in relation to Thurles, was a prohibitor of Thurles being in the final list,” outlined Spring.

“Ultimately it will be Rugby World that will pick all the venues. We’re offering the venues that we feel are the best venues to work, and Thurles was up there, but they’ll make their decision.

“And ultimately, even after the bid is awarded, they will still be making decisions in relation to the best location to get the best tournament.”

Spring also insisted there is a ‘Plan B’ if the green light is not given for the planned redevelopment of Casement Park.

“There’ll always be a Plan B in these situations and we’ll have other stadia to substitute for Casement Park.

“But in a perfect world, we would obviously wish to have Casement Park so we’ll get the regional spread as well right throughout the island.”

Dick Spring, Brian O'Driscoll, Martin McGuinness and Philip Browne Dick Spring with Brian O'Driscoll, Martin McGuinness and Philip Browne at the launch of the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Spring also explained how key the availability of Croke Park is to the bid.

“We have the stadia. We’re very fortunate that Croke Park is available to us, the third largest stadium in Europe and without that stadium, we could not have put this bid together. I think that’s a leading point for us.

“It’s up to us to convince people that we’re capable of putting together a programme to have an exciting, an ambitious World Cup that’s good for the game and that is financially successful.”

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Tipperary TDs are raging over ‘incomprehensible’ Semple Stadium World Cup snub

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Fintan O'Toole

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