IRELAND is set to launch a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup this week, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed, hoping a politically-symbolic proposal will win the country the right to host the event for the first time.
It's a proposal the Minister has been considering for more than a year, looking to replicate the successful hosting by similarly populated New Zealand in 2011, and Minister Varadkar said he will seek approval from cabinet colleagues today.
A study from consultants Deloitte has boosted the prospect of a bid, claiming that it would be "realistic" to have a cross-border bid and that it could deliver a potential €800million boost to the economy.
"I think Ireland is very well placed to host the Rugby World Cup," said Varadkar at an International Rugby Board conference. "It's probably the biggest event a country like Ireland could do, we're too small for the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup and for that reason it would engender enormous national pride," he added.
"The second thing is that even during the very difficult times of the Troubles, rugby in Ireland was a unifying sport.
"For us in Ireland, it would just be a symbol of how far we've come from the bad times to the better times now."
South Africa, hosts of the hugely symbolic 1995 Rugby World Cup and 2010 Soccer World Cup, have indicated that they plan to make a bid. France, hosts as recently as 2007, have also expressed an interest in the '23 edition.
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: "We see this is as having great potential for Ireland as an island and for the sport itself."
The deadline for bids is not until 2016 with a decision being made in 2017.