Ireland holding the Women's Rugby World Cup paves the way for men's tournament
Ulster chief executive Shane Logan believes that staging the Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland can be a "dry run" for hosting the men's tournament in 2023.
It was announced yesterday that the competition will come to Ireland in 2017, with the final to be held at the Kingspan Stadium, and Logan believes that a successfully staged tournament will augur well for the IRFU's ongoing bid to secure the men's edition six years later.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "It's important that across Ireland we host the event really well.
"There are pretty tight stipulations that World Rugby put in place for the way that the tournament is organised, the logistics, the hotels, the stadium facilities, the changing rooms, the media facilities, the facilities for supporters.
"This will be a dry run for us to prove to World Rugby that we will hold the Women's World Cup excellently and give ourselves real credibility for 2023."
With the Kingspan Stadium central to the successful bid - group games will be held in Dublin's UCD while Queen's Sport will also be used during the knock-out stages - Logan feels that the Ulster public's voracious appetite for rugby helped seal the decision.
"I think one of the reasons why the bid had Kingspan for the semi-finals and final, and one of the reasons why World Rugby has chosen us, is that we regularly sell our games out which shows that there is the underlying demand," continued Logan.
"There's nothing worse than holding an event and the stadium is half-empty, whereas here there will be a full stadium, good quality support, and a great atmosphere.
"The atmosphere at the final stages for the last couple of Women's World Cups has always been great.
"The fact that we will have an Irish women's team playing here, everybody will get behind them and it will be a real festival."
Echoing the statements made by Logan, the new Finance Minster Arlene Foster, who was involved with the bid through her previous role with the Department of Enterprise and Trade, said: "Not only is it a tremendous event in itself (and) the fact that we're having the final here at the Kingspan Stadium, but it's also great that it sets a scene if you like for the 2023 World Cup bid.
"We used that formula in golf by having the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, and then showing the R&A that we could run a successful event, and they made the decision to look at Royal Portrush for The Open and we're delighted that they're coming back and we're on the rota again.
"I hope that it will bring a lot of rugby alickadoos over and let them see the set-up here and let them know what we're able to do with them and their events."
Ireland, who won a Grand Slam in 2013, produced the shock of the tournament at last summer's World Cup by beating New Zealand and reaching the semi-finals, and clinched another Six Nations title this year. Nora Stapleton, a part of those successful sides, feels that the hosting of the tournament will provide huge incentive to the squad in the coming years.
"It's going to be fantastic," enthused the Donegal-born wing. "As players, we're so excited because you're going to have one of the biggest women's rugby competitions on home soil.
"It'll give us that added boost when it comes to preparation and everything that goes with it.
"Six Nations wins, getting to the semi-final of the last World Cup, and obviously beating New Zealand on the way, has really boosted the game in Ireland.
"We have time to develop players now and we do need to have a bigger squad, we all know that.
"The competition for places is going to increase with the added influx of players and that's going to improve how we perform, how we develop and how much better we can get.
"We have the motivation now to really put everything on hold and develop ourselves to get better as players."