Thursday 30 October 2014

Kiwi legend insists Ireland can host 2023 World Cup

Cian Tracey

Published 18/11/2013 | 01:00

World Cup winner Sean Fitzpatrick has backed Ireland's bid to host the 2023 World Cup.

Fitzpatrick (right) – who was part of New Zealand's 1987-winning squad and went on to play in two further World Cups, including captaining his country at the 1995 tournament – believes that Ireland is well equipped to host the prestigious event.

"Ireland has got the people and the passion to host a World Cup. New Zealand was told they didn't have the stadiums, but we made it work and I'm sure Ireland has good stadiums."

Fitzpatrick – in Dublin as guest of DHL who are an official partner of the 2015 World Cup – maintains that there are plenty of similarities between Ireland and New Zealand, who hosted the last tournament in 2011.

"I think it's a fantastic idea. People said New Zealand couldn't host a World Cup and we put on a fantastic tournament. But in saying that, everyone got behind it. That was important," he said.

"It was phenomenal what it did for the country in terms of tourism. But the legacy of it means we can now hold other events."

Keith Wood also lended his support to the bid, but admits a lot needs to happen before Ireland can be realistic about hosting the World Cup.

"The IRFU absolutely wouldn't be able to do it on their own. It can't be an ego thing; it has to be right for Ireland," he said. "If something like the Rugby World Cup coming to Ireland could be enough of an income generator that we need...it has to stack up. And we need as much inward tourism investment as we can get. We've to aim for big things."

Wood hopes that the country's governing sporting bodies can come together and formulate a plan that will put Ireland firmly in the spotlight.

"I think the GAA hurdle is over. I said it at the time when Croke Park opened for rugby that it put Ireland's best foot forward.

"It's a world-class stadium and it needs to be seen in the world media, and it was that day against England," he said.

"And that was fantastic for everyone. It's good for the GAA, it's good for sport and it's good for the country."

Irish Independent

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