IRFU puts best foot forward for Rugby World Cup 2023 bid

World Rugby's Technical Review Group were in Dublin for two days

BY Simon Maguire 19:10 Wednesday 22 March 2017, 19:10 22 Mar 2017

World Rugby's Technical Group at Croke Park with leading Irish sports figures. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Irish Rugby Football Union have put across an enthusiastic and comprehensive case to the visiting technical group from World Rugby over the last two days.

The group were welcomed to Croke Park on Tuesday and given all encompassing overview of Ireland's all island bid.

A reception with President Michael D. Higgins followed at Aras an Uachtarain before match and venue strategies were presented, followed by a full tour of GAA Headquarters.

Wednesday saw the group visit the the oldest international rugby venue in the world and the home of Irish rugby at the Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road.

A presentation on Ireland's unique diaspora and its potential for 2023 was included along with commitments from host towns/cities before the technical group met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings.

Speaking to after today's press conference, Ireland's Rugby World Cup Oversight Board Bid Director Kevin Potts said: It's really important that this is an all island bid. We wouldn't have the assets to host a Rugby World Cup but an all Ireland bid brings a demention to our bid that is hugely well received around the world and hugely well received in World Rugby.

"Rugby has been a unifying force here in Ireland and the fact that this is an all Ireland bid really backs up that position we've always had," he added.

Given almost all of Ireland's home test matches are played in Dublin, Potts confirmed that Joe Schmidt's side will play outside of the capital at least once, saying: "We have draft match schedules but yeah, they will have to play outside Dublin at least once and I certainly think they'll have to play up in Belfast."

Robert Brophy (World Rugby), Brett Gosper (WR), President Michael D. Higgins, Alan Gilpin (WR),  Linda Hoey (WR) and Ross Aitken (WR). Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The Irish diaspora and their potential were central to the Irish union's discussions with the Technical Group along with New Zealand's successful hosting of the 2011 event with Potts saying: "New Zealand inspired us to bid for this. We see our tournament not just being for seven million people on the island but see it as being a tournament of 77 million Irish people around the world including our diaspora."

"We absolutley intend to bring to the tournament that lovely welcome that New Zealand would have brought to teams when they were there," he added. 

The fan experience will be a central theme to Ireland's bid with all our stadia located centrally in towns and cities unlike the Stade de France in Paris or Newlands in Cape Town - both of which can be found in the outer suburbs.

The IRFU intend to have fanzones aroud all Irish venues which will bring a carnival atmosphere. "We talked about fanzones today with the technical group," Potts said, adding  "there are so many options in all towns and cities around Ireland. We've already identified some of the City Councils and [it's] one of the key aspects of our bid because our stadiums are right in the heart of our towns and cities - we'll have fanzones close to them, we'll have fanzones in city centre locations and it will be an amazing experience for fans." 

The dealine for the final submission of Ireland's bid is June 1st later this year. 

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