Saturday 16 December 2017

Leo Varadkar: We have at least a 50/50 chance of hosting the Rugby World Cup

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar has said the chances of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup are "at least 50/50".

The World Cup bid does not need to be submitted until 2016 and a decision will be made the following year, but Varadkar is confident that the infrastructure would be in place to hold the global event and is keen to publicise the bid.

“This is the biggest thing we can do,” he told Newstalk’s Off The Ball show tonight.

“It would be great for the country and great for sport.”

Varadkar also suggested that Ireland compares well with New Zealand, the hosts of the last tournament in 2011.

“Our infrastructure is inferior to New Zealand and we have a smaller population, so we can do it.”

“We have better air, ferry, road and rail than New Zealand,” he added.

The Minister did add that it is vital that the country is not left with a bill after the tournament, as has been the case in other global sporting events, and that the economics will dictate the outcome.

“If we get the numbers we expect to travel, it could bring in the region of €200m in taxes, though the IRB will have to be paid somewhere in the region of €120m for hosting.”

“Thankfully that will be paid after the event.

“The Rugby World Cup is great for the country, but I don’t want to be left with a bill as was seen at Athens for the Olympics and Sheffield for the World Student Games.”

In relation to stadia, he said that current renovations to Ravenhill, Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the RDS are going ahead regardless, so only another €20m will be required, including a “facelift” for Fitzgerald Park in Killarney.

While Varadkar said that the chances of a successful bid are “at least 50/50”, he is wary of what may count against an Irish decision.

“The next two World Cups are in the Northern Hemisphere, which may count against us, and it is the first time we are going for it.”

“The main competition will come from South Africa, while the Italians may also make a bid,” he added.

"The main thing is we have the full backing of the government and we are going for it."

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