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Ireland faces strong competition to host 2023 World Cup amid 'record interest'

Italy, South Africa, France and the USA will provide competition for the Irish bid.

WORLD RUGBY SAYS it has received “record interest” for the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Potential hosts, including Ireland, met in London this week in order to hear briefings from rugby’s governing body as the competition for the hosting rights stepped up another gear.

General view of Croke Park Croke Park will be an essential part of Ireland's bid. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland, Italy, South Africa and France have already announced their hosting interest, while representatives from the USA were also present in London this week as the States strongly considers making a bid.

The release of host selection tender documentation won’t take place until May 2016, but Ireland launched their bid last December with the full backing of both the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

In February, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper admitted that Ireland’s bid will be “very attractive” given the strong infrastructure, good hotels and the passion for rugby on these shores.

The fact that Ireland will host the 2017 Women’s World Cup is believed to have built them credit within the corridors of World Rugby too, with the interest in hosting that tournament somewhat limited elsewhere.

This year’s World Cup will be hosted by England, with some games taking place in Cardiff, while the 2019 version of the tournament will take place in Japan. There has been speculation that World Rugby would then look to the Southern Hemisphere for 2023.

Robbie Henshaw and Jordi Murphy Robbie Henshaw and Jordi Murphy will be veteran internationals by the time RWC2023 rolls around. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Speaking after this week’s event in London, Gosper also stated the importance of rugby continuing to “reach out and attract new participants and audiences,” which may point to Italy or the USA having strong chances of a winning bid.

However, a final decision will not be made on the host nation until mid-2017.

“We are delighted with the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments in Rugby World Cup 2023 at this very early stage, which highlights the enormous hosting appeal of Rugby World Cup as a low-risk, high-return economic, social and sporting driver and we welcome further dialogue as the process progresses,” said Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin.

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Murray Kinsella

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