'We'd have empty stadia if South Africa host the 2023 Rugby World Cup' - Sports minister Shane Ross
Sports Minister Shane Ross has become the latest figure to raise serious reservations about the bid by South Africa to land the Rugby World Cup.
Speaking at an event in Dublin, Mr Ross criticised the manner in which the evaluation report scored South Africa in terms of stadia.
He said that many stadia in South Africa are so large they will be more or less empty for some of the minor matches - in stark comparison to Ireland.
“I’m unhappy with the comparisons made with the South African stadia. Because the South African stadia are very, very large. And they are going to have, obviously for minor matches, they are going to have empty stadia. Whereas we will have full ones,” Mr Ross told reporters.
“I am very unhappy with the result. The Taoiseach and I are going to make further efforts as are other ministers to persuade people to vote in our favour. We’ve got a week to go and we are very optimistic we are going to make it,” he added.
Asked what efforts Mr Ross is making to salvage Ireland’s bid for the 2023 event, Mr Ross said the focus is on making phone calls. He said he has not made any personal phone calls himself but that the “key players” have been contacted.
“Several phone calls have been made to people who are very very key in all this. The IRFU are obviously campaigning at the moment as well to do so. It’s a matter of persuasion. The people who have recommended it have got it wrong. We have all the facilities available and we think they could also be persuaded by this. I’m not giving up under any circumstance,” Mr Ross said.
“I haven’t made any calls at all as of now. But I’m been working with the department in getting people to make what calls are necessary,” he added.
International Rugby Newsletter
Ireland and France have expressed strong reservations about the review process after South Africa were revealed as World Rugby's preferred candidate.
IRFU CEO Philip Browne has sent a strongly-worded letter to World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper outlining nine key questions that the Irish Union want answered in relation to the review.