Thursday 22 February 2018

O'Driscoll pitches for Rugby World Cup as May dons green jersey

Ireland’s bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll makes his pitch in London yesterday Photo: Paul Childs/Reuters
Ireland’s bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll makes his pitch in London yesterday Photo: Paul Childs/Reuters
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid has received the official backing of UK Prime Minister Theresa May in London.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was the only state leader in attendance as France, Ireland and South Africa made their final presentations on their proposals to host the 2023 tournament.

"I wouldn't have missed today for anything," said Mr Varadkar. "[Theresa May] has written to World Rugby supporting our bid, and assuring them that the United Kingdom government is behind it too."

The Taoiseach said that it will be "without a doubt the biggest sporting event that Ireland will ever host" if the bid is successful.

"I just hope that we get good news in a few weeks' time," he said. "We have the infrastructure, the stadiums, the visitor accommodation, key facilities and access."

Bid ambassador former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll added his endorsement after a presentation that featured a video with Bono and Bob Geldof reciting WB Yeats's 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'.

"For those of you who don't speak Irish, céad míle fáilte is a hundred thousand welcomes. We're not happy giving you one welcome. We want to give one hundred thousand. So people can expect to be smothered with love," O'Driscoll said.

"We're sports lovers. The GAA fans, the football fans, they'll embrace this and make sure that they'll adopt second teams as their own in different towns and villages. You just sense that we will do an exceptional job."

IRFU boss Philip Browne has vowed that the voting process, which will take place on November 15 after an independent body issues a recommended preferred bid on October 31, will not descend into a "dirty tricks" campaign.

France's Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron cited work commitments for missing the event. However, the late All-Black Jonah Lomu's sons Dhyreille and Brayley Lomu were part of France's proposal.

Former French international flanker Sébastien Chabal explained that it was because of their family's close connection with France, as their dad played for Marseille.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News