'Ireland have head-start in World Cup dogfight'
Ireland's decision to announce their bid for the 2023 World Cup early has given them a head-start on their rivals, according to bid chairman Dick Spring.
The former Tanaiste, who won three caps for Ireland in 1979, believes that South Africa represent the country's main opposition to hosting the tournament.
"I would say at this stage we are already up over the 40pc mark (of support)," he told RTE radio.
"We would be working to build from that. But you have to get one over the quota. There is a first round of voting, and say you eliminate two at the first round, you will be voting again.
"I take this on with huge enthusiasm with the whole country behind us.
"South Africa will feel very strong - a strong rugby nation with their own difficulties in other circumstances. They'll be doing their homework and we'll be doing likewise.
"There would be strong reliance on the time zones, especially the way southern hemisphere rugby has bonded with their various competitions - Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. Though we have strong relations with Australia and New Zealand, less so with Argentina."
The decision on who will host the tournament will be made in 2017 and Spring expects the race to be "one hell of a dogfight".