Monday 18 February 2019

2023 or bust for Ireland as Rugby World Cup bid war reaches D-Day

 

Brian O'Driscoll revelling in the success of Irish rugby in 2018
Brian O'Driscoll revelling in the success of Irish rugby in 2018

Ruaidhri O'Connor​

Ireland is unlikely to bid for the Rugby World Cup again if today's World Rugby Council vote on who will host the 2023 tournament goes against them.

South Africa is in the box-seat after winning the recommendation of the World Cup technical review group three weeks ago, but rivals France and Ireland have not given up hope of pulling off a shock after a hectic period of lobbying.

We will learn how effective those efforts have been sometime around lunchtime today after delegates cast their votes.

Twenty is the magic number. In total, there are 39 votes at play with the seven non-participating Six Nations and Rugby Championship countries holding three each, Japan and the six regional associations have two votes each, while the Georgian, Romanian, American and Canadian unions have one each.

Ireland's representatives, led by bid ambassador Brian O'Driscoll (right), have been canvassing voters throughout the process and hope to have a number of allies in the Council room when the vote takes place, with the English RFU, the US, Canada, Georgia and Japan thought to be among those favouring Ireland.

The union will hope that letters sent by bid chief Dick Spring and chief executive Philip Browne have cast enough doubt in the new process introduced by World Rugby to decide who hosts the tournament.

Delegates will cast their votes and if none of the three candidates has secured 20 votes, the bid with the least support will be eliminated and the votes will be cast again.

Having poured time and effort into a draining two-year process, the IRFU are understood to be reluctant to go again if their bid is not successful.

The union was left bemused by the findings of the technical review group which marked the Irish bid down on its stadia and prior experience of hosting big events in particular.

In particular, it was felt that the report overlooked security concerns in both South Africa and France and the need to fill the vast, modern stadia on offer in those countries.

Irish Independent

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