Spring urges delegates to back Ireland's World Cup bid
A letter sent by Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid chairman Dick Spring has urged voters on World Rugby's council to look beyond this week's recommendation that South Africa host the 2023 tournament.
In the letter, which was sent on Wednesday the IRFU outlined its unhappiness with the outcome of the report of Rugby World Cup Ltd's technical review group.
Spring expressed the Irish bid's "shock" at the "narrow, operational and theoretical" approach taken by the technical review group in selecting the Rainbow Nation as the preferred bid ahead of Ireland and France. The union was taken aback by the scoring criteria used in the review published on Tuesday ahead of the final vote by World Rugby's Council on November 15.
He pointed to the fact that 96pc of the difference in scoring between South Africa and Ireland came down to stadia and experience of hosting a previous tournament, and questioned what kind of tournament the technical review group wants to take place.
Spring warned that the "skewed basis" of the scoring system rewarded Ireland's rivals' prior history of hosting major events used by the report "will preclude the majority of potential new bidders from ever having the opportunity to host Rugby World Cup, therefore thwarting the growth of the game and rugby's flagship event".
He also raised particular concerns about the way in which the security section of the report was evaluated. The technical review group's report recommended the South African bid, placing Ireland third behind France in second place.
That recommendation has been endorsed by the New Zealand Rugby Union who hold three of the 39 available council votes, but the IRFU and French Federation have both outlined concerns about the process in letters to the delegates who will have the final say.
The Irish union was surprised by the fact that potential low attendances at the "large, out of town football stadiums" nominated by France and South Africa was considered favourable to full houses at "appropriately sized" city centre venues.
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The IRFU letter argued that full, smaller stadia would "transmit positive images of the tournament and the RWC brand to international TV audiences".
The report marked Ireland down under its 'Cities and Stadia' criteria because many of the grounds require significant improvement. However, Spring pointed out that the technical review group confirmed that Ireland's plan is "realistic, well-informed and achievable".
The IRFU also questioned why Ireland did not fare better on the issue of security and Spring's letter also pointed out that South Africa has been stripped of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.