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Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid
Has Ireland lost out on hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup?
Not yet, but it does not look promising ahead of the voting in London on November 15th. The report produced this week to evaluate the three bids from South Africa, France and Ireland to host the tournament recommended in a 220-page document that South Africa should be the preferred option. There were five main criteria – vision and hosting concept, infrastructure, organisation and schedule, venues and host cities, and financial commercial and commitment. South Africa finished top in three categories, France in two, and Ireland in none.
How come Ireland finished last overall when they were originally favourites?
Dealing first with an overview of the report, Ireland’s bid in the infrastructure category was less impressive, relative to those of France and South Africa. The report pointed out that all but two of the Irish venues – each nation must offer eight prospective venues – required significant upgrades and/or installation of technology and telecoms infrastructure, which was deemed a significant risk and was not inherent in the other bids.
What about the stadiums?
Despite a ¤34 million commitment from the Government to fund the upgrade works to three specific venues and to bring all eight up to the spec required to host a Rugby World Cup, the report highlighted some risks and also in respect to the fact that Casement Park in Belfast had not yet received planning permission. The fact that the Irish bid included standing in some venues would not have been acceptable for Category A or knockout matches but World Rugby acknowledged that the IRFU had satisfactorily answered that concern. The fact that South Africa and France have hosted soccer and rugby world cups weighed appreciably in their favour.
How did the Irish bid fare financially in comparison to the others?
The minimum tournament licence fee payable to World Rugby was £120m and Ireland opted for that figure, while the French promised £150m and South Africa £160m. The South Africans knew that they could not match the Irish and French bids when it came to revenue generated commercially from advertising and sponsorship etc, so they opted for the big lump sum fee instead. France came out tops in this category, with Ireland, despite paying the smallest tournament fee, hugely competitive. World Rugby derives 90 per cent of its revenue from the world cups, staged once every four years. How does the host organisation recoup an outlay of more than ¤230 million to stage the 2023 World Cup? The short answer is ticket sales. The host union gets to keep all the revenue from ticket sales. In Ireland’s case their projection is to sell 1.61 million tickets which would generate ¤250 million. France have pitched to sell 2.32 million tickets while South Africa have promised to smash the tournament record attendance set in England 2015, looking for 95 per cent capacity in stadiums.
What happens next?
On November 15th at the Royal Kensington Garden, London, unions and federations from around the world will convene to vote. There are 39 votes to be cast, with 20 required. Wales, Scotland, England, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina have three each, six regional federations (Oceania, Sudamerica, Rugby Americas north, Rugby Africa, Rugby Europe, Asia Rugby) and Japan have two votes while the US, Canada, Georgia and Romania have one vote each. It’s a secret ballot and if none of the bidding countries reach 20 votes in the first round, then the country with the lowest tally with be eliminated and everyone votes again. Ireland, France and South Africa cannot vote.
Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid looks doomed after World Rugby’s Technical Review group released their report on Tuesday. PHOTOGRAPH: BILLY STICKLAND/INPHO