Ireland officially announce 2023 Rugby World Cup bid
Governments and Gaelic Athletic Association support IRFU case to bring rugby union's showpiece back to the Emerald Isle
The Irish Rugby Football Union have officially announced their bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Backed by the Republic and Northern Ireland governments, and also supported by the Gaelic Athletic Association, the IRFU is the first governing body to formally declare its hand for the tournament.
“The Irish Rugby Football Union believes that Ireland, and its people, will make the perfect hosts for the 2023 Rugby World Cup,” said IRFU chief executive Philip Browne.
“I have no doubt but that Ireland can present a Rugby World Cup which would leave a truly positive and indelible mark on the game and the world’s perception of it.”
Ireland co-hosted the 1991 Rugby World Cup along with the rest of the then Five Nations, with matches played at Ulster’s Ravenhill and Ireland’s then Lansdowne Road home, which hosted the semi-final between Australi and New Zealand.
But this bid will see Ireland look to go it alone, with GAA stadia playing a pivotal role to bring the available venues above the minimum 16,000 capacity up to the required 10.
I’m absolutely confident that Ireland will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The Government will provide its full support to make it happen.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
As well as the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the other current rugby union venues will be made up of Leinster’s RDS Arena in Dublin, Munster’s Thomond Park in Limerick, and Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium (formely Ravenhill) in Belfast.
GAA HQ’s 82,000-seater Croke Park in Dublin, which hosted Ireland’s home matches during the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road ground, is also expected to be at the centre of the bid and tipped to host the semi-finals and the final, which require a minimum capacity of 60,000.
Semple Stadium in Thurles, Turners Cross in Cork and Belfast’s Windsor Park are other possible venues, while Pearse Stadium in Galway and MacHale Park in Castlebar have also been mooted along with Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.
“In 2007 the Rugby World Cup broadcast in over 200 countries and attracted a television audience of 4.2 billion so the potential audience is huge,” said Northern Ireland Executive deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.
“Central to this will be having the right infrastructure in place to make it a success. I thank the IRFU and GAA for their collaboration and foresight.
“This bid shows Ireland has the appetite to host an international sporting event on a scale never seen before in our history, and we are determined to make it a winning bid.”
With the bid process still in its early stages, the host country will not be announced by World Rugby until 2017.
The IRFU is expected to face stiff competition from Italy, who narrowly lost out to host the 2015 event, and the lucrative and emerging market of the USA/Canada for the 2023 event, while their Australian and South African counterparts have also reportedly been considering a bid, with the southern hemisphere giants last hosting the competition in 2003 and 1995 respectively.
South Africa had bids in to host the 2011, 2015 and 2019 events all fail, but are expected to try again, while Argentina could also throw their hat into the ring bolstered by securing their first Rugby Championship win in October.
“Ireland will put together a winning bid that will be impossible to resist,” added Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“We have the fans, the stadiums, and the accessibility to make it a World Cup to remember.
“Irish people love our sport. We are passionate about sport and we celebrate it. We want to share the Irish sporting experience with the world by inviting the world to Ireland.
“I’m absolutely confident that Ireland will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The Government will provide its full support to make it happen.”
England will host the 2015 Rugby World Cup with the competition visiting Japan for the first time in 2019.