A powerful alliance of President Michael D. Higgins, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, Minister For Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, Irish sporting bodies, both North and South Government agencies, politicians and Irish sports and business people came together over the past two days to make a compelling case to the World Rugby Technical Review Group for Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The Irish Rugby Football Union spearheaded the two-day intensive fact finding mission which is part of World Rugby’s candidate assessment process.
The programme commenced on Tuesday with a formal welcome at Croke Park by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, the Chairman of Ireland’s RWC 2023 Bid Oversight Board Dick Spring, Vice-Chairman Dr. David Dobbin, the Chief Executive of The Irish Rugby Football Union Philip Browne and the Director General of the GAA Páraic Duffy.
Later that morning the President Michael D. Higgins hosted a reception at Áras an Uachtaráin for the group, including IRFU President Stephen Hilditch. The visit concluded at a meeting in Government Buildings with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD this afternoon.
In between, the group was taken on a tour of Croke Park by Bid Ambassador Brian O’Driscoll and Dublin Gaelic football legend Bernard Brogan, both of whom, together with Paul O’Connell and former Ireland captain Philip Mathews, narrated a video on Ireland’s iconic stadiums – watch online here.
The tour included a brief hurling clinic for the group on the hallowed turf by Kilkenny’s ten-time All-Ireland Senior Hurling champion Henry Shefflin (pictured above).
The welcome to the Aviva Stadium on the second day was led by Ireland’s current senior, Under-20 and Women’s team captains – Rory Best, Jack Kelly and Niamh Briggs.
During the course of the intensive two-day visit, the group was briefed by senior members of the Irish Civil Service including Martin Fraser, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, senior members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service including Sir Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, An Gárda Siochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, the IRFU, the GAA and members of the Ireland RWC 2023 Bid Oversight Board.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, stated: “The tremendous and detailed work undertaken by all involved in our bid to this point indicates Ireland’s huge desire to host RWC 2023. I know we have the infrastructure and capability to ensure a World Cup that will live long in the memory of all involved. As I have previously said, for many years we have attended sports events all over the world and brought our unique colour, passion and friendship. Now we want to bring the world to Ireland.”
Commenting on the programme, Dick Spring, Chairman, Ireland’s RWC 2023 Oversight Board, said: “I must compliment our Bid Director Kevin Potts and his team for a phenomenally powerful programme over the past two days. I have consistently stated that our objective, first and foremost, is to deliver a world class bid on behalf of the people of Ireland.
“Having witnessed the quality, depth and professionalism of the 12 separate presentation modules delivered, I can confidently state that Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is truly world class.
“Our credentials are compelling across the key areas for the tournament, including commercial success, Government support, iconic stadiums, ticket sales, security, tourism infrastructure and, most importantly, public support from every corner of the island and the global Irish community.
“We can take nothing for granted, in rugby parlance the game has just kicked off. There is still an enormous body of work to be done if we are to succeed in winning this enormous prize for Ireland. The efforts of all involved will continue to reflect this right through to the final whistle on November 15.”
Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union, emphasised the research-driven approach to the bid, saying: “Our bid is, and has to be, based on hard facts. The Feasibility Study we conducted some three years ago with the Governments, indicated strongly that Ireland could successfully host a Rugby World Cup. All our research since then shows conclusively that this is the situation and it is around such research that we continue to build Ireland’s case.
“We are confident that Ireland 2023 will be a tournament like no other, with rugby at the heart of it, full of Irish spirit and commercial success.
“In addition, we believe the fact that Ireland has not previously hosted a Rugby World Cup is a positive dimension to our bid. It would, if successful, inspire and encourage other rugby unions throughout the world with aspirations to bid in the future, just as we were inspired by New Zealand’s success in hosting the tournament in 2011.
“Furthermore, Ireland, as a first time host, would enhance the true global nature of rugby in the eyes of the international commercial and sporting world and support the ambition of growing the game across the globe.”