Rugby Union

Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid dealt a blow by critical report

Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup Bid oversight board chairman Dick Spring with former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll at the bid announcement last November
Padraig O Meiscill

IRELAND’S 2023 Rugby World Cup bid team says it will “compete to the final minute” to secure the competition after it was dealt a serious blow yesterday morning.

The board of Rugby World Cup Limited has given South Africa its initial recommendation to host the tournament ahead of France and Ireland.

The Irish bid scored the lowest in all five criteria that were assessed, with the assessment of its venues and host cities proving the most costly.

After the announcement Dick Spring, chairman of Ireland’s 2023 bid oversight board, said: "While it is disappointing not to have received the initial recommendation from Rugby World Cup Board Limited, there is nothing in the report which is insurmountable and this is certainly not the end of the road.

“We absolutely believe Ireland can secure the tournament for 2023. On a first reading of the report, it is clear that the Evaluation Commission is impressed by the quality and detail of the bid put forward on behalf of Ireland.

“It is also clear from the report that Ireland has all the capabilities to host an outstanding Rugby World Cup in 2023 stating as it does …'any of the three candidates could host a successful Rugby World Cup'.”

Yesterday’s report singled out Ireland's proposed GAA match venues as requiring “considerable work" and indicated that this made the bid a "higher risk" proposition than its competitors.

The commission noted that Belfast’s Casement Park redevelopment was still subject to planning approval while also singling out Pearse Stadium, Fitzgerald Stadium and Páirc Uí Chaoimh as requiring a great deal of work to bring them up to Rugby World Cup standard.

"The amount of upgrade work required introduces complexity and therefore a significant risk factor that is not is not inherent in the other two bids," the report said.

"Parc Ui Chaoimh [sic] (complete August 2017), Pearse Stadium and Fitzgerald Stadium require a significant level of overlay which is flagged as a risk, given the amount of work required to bring these venues up to RWC standard.

"Casement Park is scheduled for redevelopment by 2020 and will also require a significant level of overlay. At time of writing, we understand that this venue is still subject to final planning approval."

In his response to the report, Spring was determined to emphasise the positives: "Ultimately, the decision rests with the Council Members of World Rugby, who are elected by Rugby Unions from across the globe.

“These are individuals and unions who have reacted positively to our message and vision for the tournament, as we criss-crossed the globe over the past two years.

"We will again, in the coming weeks, renew our vision to the Council Members - a commercially successful rugby tournament based on rugby's values of integrity and camaraderie, played in full stadia in the hearts of towns and cities.”

The Munster man added: "Ireland's proposition in this regard is compelling, and so our team will compete to the final whistle as we bid to turn our historic bid plans into reality.

“We still have confidence that the Council members, who vote on November 15, will place their trust in Ireland to deliver an outstanding 2023 Rugby World Cup."

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