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Failed 2023 bid cost IRFU and taxpayers a combined €3.25m

 

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Ireland 2023 bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll, left, IRFU President Philip Orr, centre, and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne react during the Rugby World Cup 2023 host union announcement. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland 2023 bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll, left, IRFU President Philip Orr, centre, and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne react during the Rugby World Cup 2023 host union announcement. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland 2023 bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll, left, IRFU President Philip Orr, centre, and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne react during the Rugby World Cup 2023 host union announcement. Photo: Sportsfile

The IRFU and governments north and south were left counting the cost of Ireland's failure to secure the 2023 Rugby World Cup last night.

Between them, they invested €3.25m into securing the tournament, but only secured eight of the possible 39 votes and were eliminated in the first round of voting as France claimed the right to host the tournament in shock circumstances.

Ireland's bid team were left disappointed by the lack of support from neighbours Wales and Scotland as well as fellow PRO14 allies Italy as World Rugby Council delegates gave the game's governing body a bloody nose by ignoring the recommendation that South Africa would be the ideal hosts.

Instead, France topped the first-round voting with 18, with South Africa behind on 13 and Ireland adrift on eight.

When Ireland's votes were redistributed, France were declared winners on a head-to-head score of 24-15.

"The bid cost was probably in the region of €3.2-3.25m," IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said.

"We have put in about €1.75m, the government in the Republic have put in about €1.25m and the Northern Ireland government put in about €250,000.

"It's very disappointing. It was particularly disappointing that Scotland and Wales didn't support their nearest neighbours."

"They had reasons. Scotland wanted to go for the money and Wales wanted to effectively support Gareth Davies, who was part of the evaluation process.

"(We're) very disappointed (in Italy). We put ourselves out and spent a lot of political capital in supporting Italy for all the right reasons as we believe the professional game in Italy needs to be supported.

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"Unfortunately our colleagues in Scotland and Wales sometimes take a different view so we have had to defend the Italian position, but listen, we have to sit down and work it all out."

England's RFU was the only one of Ireland's Six Nations colleagues who voted for Ireland and, when the Irish bid was ruled out, they threw their three votes behind France.

The French had the backing of Scotland, Italy and Japan as well as a host of regional bodies and the smaller nations like Georgia and Romania.

While South Africa had the support of their SANZAAR allies and Wales, whose chairman Davies felt duty-bound to follow the technical evaluation recommendation given he combines a host of roles including that of director of Rugby World Cup Ltd.

The IRFU chief indicated that Ireland would not bid again under the parameters that emerged over the course of the bidding process.

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