Irish 'Ready for the World' launch 2023 Rugby World Cup bid
Government ministers from north and south appeared together as the Irish Rugby Football Union officially launched its candidacy to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday.
Supporting the "Ready for the World" slogan, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness threw their weight behind the bid for the sport's quadrennial showpiece event which they have yet to host.
"If New Zealand can host it, why can't we?" was the rhetorical question posed by IRFU Chief Executive, Philip Browne, with much of the bid focusing on the unique welcome the expected 445,000 plus fans will receive.
A mixture of four rugby and eight Gaelic Games stadiums will be employed by the bid team, with 83,200 capacity Croke Park (the home of Gaelic Games, but which temporarily was used by the Irish team while Lansdowne Road was being renovated from 2007-2010) hosting the semi-finals and final, if the bid is successful.
The formal bid will be sent before the World Rugby Council in June of 2017, with a final decision made on the host announced on November 15, 2017.
Ireland will compete with France and South Africa -- both of whom have hosted it before -- for the honour.
"This could be worth over €800M to the economy of Ireland, and that's a conservative estimate," said Browne. "We expect 4 billion TV eyes on us, and the best attended Rugby World Cup ever.
"We want a sustainable solution, and with that all our stadiums are pre-existing, and will be city centre, walkable locations."
There will be an expected 2 million tickets sold at the tournament that will run from September 15 to November 4, with the IRFU also hopeful of catering for modest budgets with a number of stadiums retaining standing-only terraces.
"We want to bring a unique mix of terraces and seats," said Browne. "We don't want only all seater venues, and this would enable us to deliver a mix of pricing for fans."
First round tickets for terraced areas could be available for as little as €15 ($16), it is understood.
- 'World class' -
Dick Spring, chairman of Ireland's RWC 2023 Bid Oversight Board, promised Ireland's proposition will be "world class and compelling".
"We believe Ireland is ready to stage a Rugby World Cup like no other. A tournament that will capture the imagination of the world," said Spring, who is a former Ireland rugby international.
"A festival of rugby that will be full of Irish people's unique spirit and an event that will help rugby to reach new audiences throughout the world.
"Our entire bid team has been inspired to even greater heights by the Irish team's heroic victories in recent weeks over the All Blacks and Canada.
"We need this inspiration, for while the prize is indeed great, the competition is fierce and we will need to draw on every creative and determined fibre of our collective being if we are to succeed," added the former Deputy Prime Minister
The co-operation between both political jurisdictions was highlighted by McGuinness.
"This shows how sports mad the country is," he said. "Everyone can get right behind it regardless of politics or allegiances.
"This is a collective effort and I commend the GAA for placing its grounds at the disposal of the tournament, a key factor in Ireland's ability to bid for the tournament."
© 2016 AFP