independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Browne hopeful bid could succeed

The IRFU has been working on a 2023 Rugby World Cup bid since 2011

Irish rugby boss Philip Browne can find "no reason on earth" why Ireland could not host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Chief executive Browne is confident the Irish Rugby Football Union can follow New Zealand's lead, after the successful 2011 tournament staged there.

The IRFU has been working on a 2023 World Cup bid since 2011, and are now waiting on parliamentary backing.

Ireland's minister for transport, tourism and sport Leo Varadkar is a strong supporter of the IRFU cause.

The World Cup bid was due to be put before the Irish Government on Tuesday, and should shortly be put to the Northern Ireland Executive.

IRFU boss Browne said behind-the-scenes talks with both regimes have yielded progress.

Browne said: "This sort of bid couldn't happen without committed support from the governments both north and south.

"We've had discussions with Leo Varadkar and we've had discussions with Arlene Foster in the Northern Ireland Government and in principle I think they're very supportive.

"It obviously needs now to go to cabinet and Leo Varadkar has said he's bringing it to cabinet on Tuesday, and obviously it would need to go to cabinet in Northern Ireland as well.

"Yes it's a big bid and it's a big undertaking.

"But if it can be done in a country like New Zealand which is a similar size in terms of population, there's no reason on earth why it can't be done here."

The 2023 Rugby World Cup bidding process will commence with the International Rugby Board in 2016.

Browne said "decisions will be taken by the IRB in 2017".

Ireland are expected to face strong competition from France, South Africa and Italy, who have all already expressed interest in bidding for the tournament.

England will host the 2015 tournament, before Japan entertain the rugby world four years later.

Minister Varadkar has already projected an 800 million Euro benefit to Ireland's economy from hosting the tournament.

The IRFU confirmed the GAA have already ratified use of their stadia, such as Croke Park, building confidence Ireland boasts the facilities to pull off such a major world sporting event.

Varadkar said hosting the World Cup would be a big morale boost for Ireland.

He said: "This would have huge benefits for Ireland's profile, not least in terms of rugby, but also for tourism, business and the overall economy.

"Hosting the Rugby World Cup is probably the biggest international event that a country of our size could achieve."

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