Thursday 23 November 2017

Sports Minister hasn't made any calls to salvage World Cup bid

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Picture: Steve Humphreys
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Picture: Steve Humphreys
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Sports Minister Shane Ross has yet to make any personal phone calls to key players to salvage Ireland's bid for the 2023 World Cup.

The admission came despite him becoming the latest figure to raise serious reservations about the bid by South Africa to land the prestigious global tournament.

Mr Ross criticised the manner in which the evaluation report scored South Africa in terms of stadiums.

He said many stadiums in South Africa were so large they would be more or less empty for some of the minor matches.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont with the Webb Ellis Cup – Ireland’s bid for the 2023 tournament is in serious trouble. Picture: AP
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont with the Webb Ellis Cup – Ireland’s bid for the 2023 tournament is in serious trouble. Picture: AP

"I'm unhappy with the comparisons made with the South African stadia," said Mr Ross. "Because the South African stadia are very, very large.

"And they are going to have, obviously for minor matches, they are going to have empty stadia. Whereas we will have full ones."

"I am very unhappy with the result. The Taoiseach and I are going to make further efforts, as are other ministers, to persuade people to vote in our favour. We've got a week to go and we are very optimistic we are going to make it," he added.

Asked what efforts Mr Ross was making to salvage Ireland's bid, he said the focus was on making phone calls. However, he said he had not made any personal phone calls himself but that the "key players" had been contacted.

"Several phone calls have been made to people who are very, very key in all this," he said,

Ireland and France have expressed strong reservations about the review process after World Rugby recently chose South Africa as its preferred candidate. Earlier this week, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne intervened in pursuit of Rugby World Cup 2023, in a letter posing serious questions of why the technical review group recommended South Africa.

The IRFU chief executive has written to World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper, outlining concerns about the process behind the recommendation.

Mr Browne insists that Ireland is committed to hosting "a truly unique, spectacular and hugely successful tournament for World Rugby".

And French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte yesterday said: "We've been around the world promoting our bid, trying to show that it's the best one out there, and we have to keep it up for another week.

"We know the Irish are doing the same thing and that South Africa are doing the same thing. But everything's still to play for."

Thirty-nine votes are at stake when the winner is decided next Wednesday. Individual nations have as many as three votes each.

The winning country needs 20 votes and if one bid does not achieve this total at the first count, then the bottom bid will be excluded.

Irish Independent

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