Monday 16 September 2019

Rugby World Cup bid team 'made a bags of it', Seanad is told in row

Senator Terry Leyden Picture: Tom Burke
Senator Terry Leyden Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A bitter row has erupted over Ireland's failure to secure the 2023 Rugby World Cup as Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden claimed those behind the bid "made a bags of it".

The angry exchanges in the Seanad began when Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond expressed disappointment that the World Cup was awarded to France.

Mr Leyden said the lost bid was like "crying over spilt milk at this stage". He added: "Quite frankly, they made a bags of it. Let us call a spade a spade."

He went on to claim that those involved in the bid, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, displayed "an inability to negotiate".

Mr Richmond branded the remarks "ridiculous" and called on him to retract them. He also asked: "What did you contribute to it? Slagging off women playing rugby. That really helped."

Mr Richmond was referring to controversial comments last month where Mr Leyden suggested rugby was too rough for women. He later said he regretted the remarks.

Mr Leyden alleged that Sports Minister Shane Ross was more concerned about a proposed Independent Alliance trip to North Korea than the bid, adding: "I don't think they had a vote."

He also claimed that when Fianna Fáil was in power "we could negotiate for world events". Mr Richmond responded: "The bailouts - you could negotiate them."

Mr Leyden also insisted he wouldn't have lost the votes of the Scottish and Welsh rugby authorities if he had been involved. He claimed those involved in the Irish bid "wouldn't negotiate a p**s-up in a brewery for God's sake".

The Cathaoirleach, Denis O'Donovan, told Mr Leyden he had used an "inappropriate adjective" and Mr Leyden agreed to withdraw his last remark.

In the Dáil, Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells asked if there would be a review of the Rugby World Cup bid given that €3.25m in taxpayers' money was spent on it and how Ireland only secured eight votes. "We need to get to the root of it," he said.

Minister Richard Bruton did not offer a commitment that a report would be drawn up.

He said it was "disappointing" that it wasn't successful and said a lot of lessons would have been learned from it.

Irish Independent

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