Rugby World Cup: All-Ireland bid to stage 2023 event announced

The 2023 Rugby World Cup could be staged in Ireland

An all-Ireland bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was formally announced by the Irish Rugby Football Union at an event in Armagh on Friday.

The Northern Ireland Executive and Irish Government pledged their support.

"Ireland will put together a winning bid that will be impossible to resist," said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson added: "Northern Ireland has demonstrated that whatever the event, whatever the occasion, we deliver."

"Regardless of whether it is cycling, golf, the World Police and Fire Games and now rugby, I have no doubt that this will be a resounding success both on and off the field," added the First Minister.

The Ireland rugby union team represents both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the political administrations of both countries have been assessing the possibility of hosting the tournament over the past 10 months to decide whether to submit an official bid.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
"In 2007 the Rugby World Cup broadcast in over 200 countries and attracted a television audience of 4.2bn so the potential audience is huge."

As well as the traditional rugby stadiums such as the Aviva in Dublin, the Kingspan at Ravenhill in Belfast and Thomond Park in Limerick, a 2023 World Cup in Ireland would also hope to utilise a number of impressive Gaelic football venues, including the 82,300 capacity Croke Park in Dublin.

The Irish rugby union team played their home matches in Croke Park between 2007 and 2010 while the Aviva Stadium was being built on the site of the old Lansdowne Road.

"This would involve teams coming to Ireland weeks in advance for training camps, providing a major boost to the tourism industry and that's before the supporters from across the world descend," said Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness.

Croke Park
Croke Park staged Ireland internationals and other major rugby games between 2007 and 2010

"In 2007 the Rugby World Cup broadcast in over 200 countries and attracted a television audience of 4.2bn so the potential audience is huge."

Next year's Rugby World Cup will be hosted by England, with Japan hosting the event in 2019.

Cross border bids to hold sporting events are not unheard of in Ireland and earlier this year cycling's Giro d'Italia held stages on both sides of the border.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne believes that Ireland, and its people, would make perfect hosts for the 2023 tournament.

"Stretching back to the Union's formation in 1879, and right throughout the modern era, Irish rugby has supplied a series of inspirational players and administrators to the international game," he said.

"We believe it is opportune for us now to put forward Ireland's undoubted credentials to host world rugby's showpiece."