Ir­ish look to di­as­pora back­ing for 2023 bid

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

DUBLIN: IRE­LAND’S 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is hop­ing the large Ir­ish di­as­pora in the United States could be their trump card. The IRFU of­fi­cially launched their can­di­dacy for the global show­piece in Dublin on Tues­day, pit­ting them­selves against France and po­ten­tial bid­ders South Africa, both of whom have ex­pe­ri­enc­ing host­ing the tour­na­ment. A fi­nal bid must be sub­mit­ted by June, with the win­ning de­ci­sion an­nounced by the World Rugby coun­cil on Novem­ber 15, 2017. While France and South Africa have been there and done it, the IRFU hope their unique abil­ity to spread the rugby gospel to the much de­sired North Amer­i­can mar­ket could swing things their way. Award­ing the 2019 World Cup to Ja­pan shows World Rugby are open to ex­pand­ing the game be­yond tra­di­tional borders, and the US is ex­pected to join the race to host the 2027 tour­na­ment. Host­ing the tour­na­ment in Ire­land four years ear­lier, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of fans based in the North Amer­ica ex­pected to tune in to, or travel to the Emer­ald Isle, is some­thing Philip Browne, the IRFU Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, was keen to men­tion in Dublin.

“It’s go­ing to be a World Cup in­volv­ing the whole is­land of Ire­land, and we have a good mix of sta­dia, all within easy walk­ing dis­tance of city cen­tres,” Browne said. “We hope by hav­ing stand­ing ter­rac­ing there will be ac­ces­si­ble tick­ets for real rugby fans and we’re go­ing to pro­vide those fans with a unique celebration of rugby, a unique fan ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The other thing we bring to the party, which no one else can is the 80 mil­lion peo­ple around the world-the Ir­ish di­as­pora. “One of the key is­sues for World Rugby is: How do you open up the Amer­i­can mar­ket? We pos­si­bly have the an­swer.

“We have 34.5 mil­lion [peo­ple] in the USA, an­other four mil­lion of Ir­ish de­scent in Canada. There were 62,300 peo­ple at the match in Chicago. I’d say 45-50,000 were Ir­ish sup­port­ers, even if they weren’t all from Ire­land. “There were about 7,000 peo­ple [trav­el­ling] from Ire­land, but the rest were based in North Amer­ica and the rest of the world. “We can pro­vide a plat­form for World Rugby to pro­mote the game into ar­eas of the world they haven’t been able to up to now.” Win­ning the bid was said to be worth an es­ti­mated EUR800m to the Ir­ish econ­omy, while bid or­gan­is­ers pre­dicted the largest num­ber of trav­el­ling fans in tour­na­ment his­tory, with Scot­tish, Welsh and English fans all ex­pected to travel in their num­bers to the is­land.

A list of 12 venues, four rugby and eight from the na­tive Gaelic Games As­so­ci­a­tion, was an­nounced, with World Rugby ex­pected to whit­tle that down to be­tween eight and ten after the win­ning bid is cho­sen. To get the win, Ire­land will need ap­prox­i­mately 19 votes from the World Rugby Coun­cil, and dis­cus­sions have al­ready be­gun in earnest - with the IRFU speak­ing with their coun­ter­parts from the US and Cana­dian Unions in Chicago last week, ahead of their timely vic­tory over reign­ing World Cham­pi­ons New Zealand.

“Lis­ten, there are no votes in the bag at all,” Browne said. “The re­al­ity is that we’ve just launched and it’s up to us to go out over the next 12 months and per­suade peo­ple of the value and ben­e­fit of our bid to world rugby. “Yes, we’ve started our con­ver­sa­tions. We’ve started our con­ver­sa­tions in Chicago with the Cana­di­ans and the US, we met peo­ple yes­ter­day in Lon­don and we’ll be meet­ing more peo­ple be­tween now and Christ­mas, and after Christ­mas. “So the hard work re­ally starts now in terms of ac­tu­ally putting the de­tail on the bid and then hav­ing those con­ver­sa­tions, try­ing to per­suade peo­ple that our bid is of value to world rugby.”

The 2023 tour­na­ment will run from Septem­ber 15 to Novem­ber 4.

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