Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Billy Keane: Shame on World Rugby for putting money first

The iconic Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney would be a great venue for a Rugby World Cup match. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
The iconic Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney would be a great venue for a Rugby World Cup match. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

World Rugby placed Ireland third of three. World Rugby didn't get the value of bringing rugby back to the people.

World Rugby went for the money. And rich bums on pricey seats will replace families and fans who care.

World Rugby has no memory. World Rugby has no loyalty. They have forgotten our contribution to the game. Ireland has never hosted a World Cup. And unless the rugby-playing nations come to our aid, no small country, including New Zealand, will ever host a World Cup again.

World Rugby has no sense of fun. The sterile report never referenced an Ireland of storytellers, an Ireland of the party and the good times to come. World Rugby has no heart.

The country that paid the most won. World Rugby sold out.

Ireland's World Cup bid, under the excellent leadership of Dick Spring who gave three years of his life to the cause, were never told of any concerns regarding huge all-seater stadia at the beginning the bid process.

There was a secret and the secret was World Rugby wanted big loads of money. Sometimes silence can be as misleading as the spoken word. But we still met their price of €120 million.

The report that condemned Ireland was a box-ticking exercise. The country with the most money was always going to win.

Our infrastructure is more than adequate. We guarantee packed houses in every well-resourced, atmospheric venue - at affordable prices.

Killarney rivals any tourism town anywhere in the world. The lakes and mountains are a wonder of the world. Indeed there are more tourists here in August than will ever come to the World Cup.

Billy Beaumont's men must have called at night. There was a concern expressed in the report that the old and historic Fitzgerald Stadium needs work.

This is Killarney, a place where things get built and built quickly. It's not as if the World Cup will be held next week or even next year. We have six years to do the work.

Perversely, World Rugby is critical of new and lustrous Páirc Uí Chaoimh. There was work to be done, they said.

It's done Billy, but no one checked. Páirc Uí Chaoimh can easily be turned in to an all- seater but for many of us the terracing makes for a better atmosphere. And it makes for cheaper tickets. And it's safe Billy. Very safe.

And Cork will be full, Billy. Cork will rock. We are a people's people, Billy. And a nation of welcomes. There was no mention of that either in the report.

Ireland can cater for all attendances. Thomond Park takes 26,000 and will be full for every game in the most fervent rugby town anywhere.

World Rugby wanted everyone sitting down. As at a dinner party so they can fleece the picnic people and therefore charge more for the food and beer franchises.

Amazing

Dan Carter described Thomond Park in these terms: "Wasn't the result we were after but on a personal level it was amazing to finally play at the legendary Thomond Park. Wow, what at atmosphere."

Leinster played a few weeks ago in a big stadium in South Africa. The 3,000 present were lost in the concrete. The locals, good people that they are, will not be able to afford the prices.

Did you know the price of tickets for The Lions Tour to NZ was around €350?

Most of the people going to games won't even understand the rules while the kids and the coaches will be watching on TV, if they can afford the channels, seeing as TV is propping up the obscene anti- family South African and French money buy-offs.

It is universally acknowledged that Dublin is the best place on earth for a rugby international. The big stadia are in the city centre.

Dublin is well able to cope with a succession of 80,000 sell-outs as is evidenced every summer during the GAA season. Every Dub will be an ambassador for the funniest city in the world.

Moss Keane was a friend of mine. I helped write his book. Moss Keane was a friend of Billy Beaumont's. Billy partied in Dublin with Moss. He knows who we are and why we are the way we are.

Moss Keane said "there is no border in an Irish dressing room". Rugby was an all-Ireland sport during the worst of The Troubles and it still is.

Now north and south have united behind the Irish bid. The unity of minds, of people and of purpose, will have a lasting benefit. World Rugby have placed the money men before the peacemakers.

We have never hosted a World Cup. France and South Africa have had their turn. The lack of empathy here is appalling.

World Rugby made it clear South Africa is ahead of us in experience.

Ireland welcomes millions of tourists every year. Many more than the World Cup's 450,000 come here in August alone. This is easy for us. We can do the World Cup without any fuss.

World Rugby, believe it or not, placed South Africa ahead of Ireland in terms of security.

I dearly love South Africa. The people there rival us in terms of the friendliness, warmth and welcome but South Africa is a very dangerous place.

The latest South African crime report published a month ago by their police covers the period from the April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

There were 608,321 contact crimes which include murder, attempted murder rape, sexual offences, hijacking, serious assaults and muggings. There is a huge problem in South Africa with the under-reporting of crime.

You would worry if World Rugby were asked to assess the picking of a lollipop person at the school gate.

The French bid expressed the hope there would be hardly any terrorism by 2023. Even the ostrich looks around every now and then.

I was in Bordeaux last year for soccer's European Championship finals.

There wasn't a police person to be seen on the over-packed tram to the game.

We were checked by a frail man in his seventies before we entered the fan zone in front of the stadium. A big sneeze would have knocked him to the ground.

The rugby security was just as bad in Stade de France. We warned of this here in these pages before a terror attack outside the stadium which could have killed hundreds but for a lucky break.

Just a month ago a bomb was found outside Parc des Princes in Paris before a soccer game. France is under a state of emergency. And they tell us France is safe.

There is one last vote. We are a mighty nation who will not be found wanting. No one will be stuck for a bed or a dinner.

This is Ireland of the welcomes and we see it as our patriotic duty to mind our visitors like we would our own families.

Please vote for Ireland, her people and your people. Please vote for the kids and their wide-eyed wonder. Please vote for the underdog. We will not let you down.

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