Rugby World Cup 2023: Ireland confirm plans to bid for tournament

Next year's World Cup is being held in England and Wales

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The Independent Online

The Irish Rugby Football Union has announced that there will be an all-Ireland bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The Northern Ireland Executive and Irish Government are jointly supporting the effort to bring the sport's showpiece to Ireland's shores.

Irish premier Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Stormont's First Minister and Deputy First Minister Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness joined IRFU chief executive Philip Browne to announce the bid in Armagh.

Mr Browne said at an event at the Royal School Armagh: "The Irish Rugby Football Union believes that Ireland, and its people, will make the perfect hosts for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

"We believe it is opportune for us now to put forward Ireland's undoubted credentials to host world rugby's showpiece."

The political administrations north and south have been engaged in a preliminary assessment exercise over the last 10 months to weigh up the feasibility of submitting an official bid.

In February, former Irish international star Hugo MacNeill was asked to chair the cross-border working group examining the issue.

As well as the traditional rugby stadiums such as the Aviva in Dublin, the Kingspan at Ravenhill in Belfast and Thomond Park in Limerick, a 2023 World Cup in Ireland would hope to utilise a number of impressive Gaelic football venues, including the 82,300-capacity Croke Park in Dublin.

Mr Kenny said the Irish Government was fully behind the bid.

"I am delighted to formally announce the Government's support, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive, to formally back the IRFU's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup," he said.

"Ireland will put together a winning bid that will be impossible to resist. We have the fans, the stadiums, and the accessibility to make it a World Cup to remember."

First Minister Mr Robinson said: "I fully support this bid by the IRFU to bring an elite international sporting event to the home of one of the powerhouses of world rugby.

"It would be a tremendous achievement to see the IRFU host the Rugby World Cup 2023.

"This bid shows the ambition of the Northern Ireland Executive and our determination to bring world-class international sporting events to Northern Ireland."

Mr McGuinness praised the co-operation between the IRFU and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

"Rest assured, we will put together a robust and compelling bid to bring this sporting spectacle to Ireland," he said.

"This bid shows Ireland has the appetite to host an international sporting event on a scale never seen before in our history and we are determined to make it a winning bid."

Next year's Rugby World Cup will be hosted by England, with Japan hosting the event in 2019.

Argentina and Italy could be potential rivals for the 2023 bid. The winner will not be revealed until 2017.

Cross-border bids to hold sporting events are not unheard of in Ireland and earlier this year cycling's Giro d'Italia held stages on both sides of the border.

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