The First Minister, Arlene Foster MLA, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA, yesterday welcomed Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Oversight Board to Belfast. A full board meeting was held at Kingspan Stadium as part of the ongoing preparation of the bid.
The Ministers reaffirmed the Executive’s commitment to the project and expressed their desire to see Ireland win the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Addressing the meeting, First Minister, Arlene Foster, MLA said: “The Northern Ireland Executive is fully committed to providing all the necessary support required by the Bid Team to ensure the delivery of a compelling, world class bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We already have significant experience of hosting major international sporting events here in Northern Ireland including the Giro d’Italia and the Irish Open Golf Championship, with Royal Portrush hosting the greatest Tournament in world golf, The Open Championship, in 2019.
“Hosting key events such as these clearly showcases Northern Ireland on the global stage as a destination that can successfully deliver major international sporting events and helps display full confidence for a successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, MLA said: “A Rugby World Cup in Ireland would prove to be a hugely attractive destination for rugby supporters from throughout the world and we would relish the opportunity to welcome them to one of the world’s major sports gatherings in 2023.
“I am confident, with the co-operation already in evidence between both Governments, sporting bodies and the general public, Ireland would deliver a hugely successful tournament for World Rugby.
“We must all now go the extra mile to bring this sporting spectacle to Ireland in 2023.”
The First Minister and Deputy First Minister were joined by Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell and Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
Minister Bell commented: “Northern Ireland already has a proven record in hosting world class sporting events such as the Irish Open, the Giro d’Italia and the World Police and Fire Games.
“The Rugby World Cup has one of the largest numbers of spectators of any major sports event and this would be a fantastic opportunity not only for rugby fans but also for local businesses and a major boost for the tourism industry.
“Holding such a prestigious tournament would further showcase our tourism product and raise our profile on a global stage. I am positive the hosting of RWC 2023 would be a huge success bringing visitors and travelling supporters from across the globe to Northern Ireland. Both myself, my Department and the Executive will do all we can to provide the assistance to help develop a successful winning bid.”
Minister Ní Chuilín added: “I am delighted that the IRFU is bidding to bring the 2023 Rugby World Cup to Ireland and fully support the bid. Sport has a tremendous power to unite and inspire communities, and global events like this coming to Ireland can only serve to stimulate engagement and participation in sport at grassroots level.
“The IRFU has already secured the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup for Ireland, with both semi-finals and the final to be held at Kingspan Stadium, proving that, thanks to DCAL’s stadium programme, we have the world class facilities required for such events.
“A redeveloped Casement Park is a Programme for Government commitment and integral to the bid for 2023. I remain committed to ensuring that we deliver on that commitment and I am confident we will do so.”
RWC Bid Oversight Board
The role of the Oversight Board is to approve bid strategy, oversee progress, liaise with the IRFU and both Governments and ensure the delivery of a ‘world class’ bid for RWC 2023 in Ireland.
Members of the board include:
Dick Spring, former Tánaiste and Irish rugby international, Chairman
Dr David Dobbin, Group Chief Executive, Dale Farm and Chairman of the Management Committee of the Ulster Branch IRFU, Vice- Chairman
Brian O’Driscoll, one of the world’s most capped international rugby players, board member with a title of Bid Ambassador
Hugo MacNeill, who was Chair of the joint RWC Working Group serves on the Board. Hugo is a former Irish rugby international with a successful career in business
Philip Browne, Chief Executive, IRFU
Páraic Duffy, Director General, GAA
Tom Grace, former Irish International and Lion, current Chairman of the Lions Board and Honorary Treasurer IRFU
Shane Logan, CEO, Ulster Rugby
Padraig Slattery, Executive Chairman, PSG Communications Group
Ken Spratt, Assistant Secretary General – Tourism, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Mike Thompson, Assistant Secretary – Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment