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GAA would play pivotal role in bid to host World Cup -- Browne

THE IRFU are actively considering a bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Chief executive Philip Browne yesterday confirmed that the union have begun looking at the possibility of bringing the tournament back to Irish shores.

They intend to consult with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar and the GAA to assess the viability of a bid.

Browne acknowledged that the union's current facilities are not extensive enough to host the competition.

That is where the GAA come in and director general Paraic Duffy said the Association would consider any request from the IRFU.

The rugby chief also left the door open for a Celtic bid with Scotland and Wales as another possible option for the tournament.

"It's something we're looking at. We haven't formed a final view on it," Browne said. "We'll obviously need to speak with the minister about it before we make any decisions to progress any further, and we'll be doing that over the next little while.

"Our existing facilities would be adequate in terms of quality, but there just isn't enough of them. There is also the option, if we were going to host it, of either holding it only in Ireland or include Scotland and Wales, where there would be excellent facilities obviously. It's a work in progress.

"I'm sure at some point in time if we wanted to progress it, we would need to sit down with the GAA and talk about Croke Park. That's something for another day."

The deadline for the International Rugby Board's application process is at the end of 2013, with the decision being made in the summer of 2014. The 2015 World Cup will take place in England, with the 2019 competition being hosted by Japan. Ireland has hosted World Cup matches during the 1991 and 1999 World Cups.

Meanwhile, the IRFU chief executive refused to be drawn on the status of Luke Fitzgerald's contract negotiations. The Leinster back's current deal expires at the end of the season and he has been linked with a move abroad.

Irish Independent