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Ire­land’s Rugby World Cup bid

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW - JOHN O’SULLIVAN

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

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