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world cup fever

Ireland will make an audacious bid to bring the 2023 Rugby World Cup to this island.

"The Irish Rugby Football Union believes that Ireland, and its people, will make the perfect hosts," said IRFU Chief Executive Phillip Browne at yesterday's announcement.

"It is one of the world's major sporting events and the IRFU has been a central supporter of the tournament since its inauguration in 1987."

The Irish government and the Northern Ireland Executive will embrace co-operation from the GAA to provide the stadia for the greatest sporting event proposed to be held here.

"Ireland will put together a winning bid that will be impossible to resist," said Taosieach Enda Kenny at the announcement at Royal School Armagh yesterday.

"We have the fans, the stadiums, and the accessibility to make it a World Cup to remember.

"Irish people love our sport. We are passionate about sport and we celebrate it.

"We want to share the Irish sporting experience with the world by inviting the world to Ireland."

The very tone of The Taoiseach's comment would lead one to believe this is almost a done deal.

Despite the commitment of 1.5million euros to Ireland's campaign, there are many obstacles to overcome.

The truth of the matter is that South Africa were the disappointed under-bidders for the 2019 Rugby World Cup which will be staged in Japan.

They have every intention of hosting a renewal to rival that of their historic event back in 1995.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has put the full weight of his Executive behind the bid.

"This bid shows the ambition of the Northern Ireland Executive and our determination to bring world class international sporting events to Northern Ireland," he stated.

"Infrastructure is key to this bid and the Northern Ireland Executive has already invested £14.7million in the redevelopment of the home of Ulster rugby to redevelop and expand the capacity of the stadium. World class players require world class facilities and we have that at Kingspan."

No doubt, the RWC would provide a world stage on which to sell the unique attraction of Ireland as a tourist endpoint.

Rest assured we will put together a robust and compelling bid to bring this sporting spectacle to Ireland," added Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

"In 2007 the Rugby World Cup broadcast in over 200 countries and attracted a television audience of 4.2 billion so the potential audience is huge.

"Central to this will be having the right infrastructure in place to make it a success. I thank the IRFU and GAA for their collaboration and foresight.

"This bid shows Ireland has the appetite to host an international sporting event on a scale never seen before in our history, and we are determined to make it a winning bid.

Think of the positive impact Irish supporters of all codes have on major sporting competitions. That's the welcome that awaits the world."