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Irish bid to stage Rugby World Cup

An all-Ireland bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup is set to be officially unveiled.

Officials from the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) will tomorrow join representatives from the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish government to outline their ambition to jointly host the sport's showpiece event.

Both administrations have been engaged in a preliminary assessment exercise over the last 10 months to weigh up the feasibility of submitting an official bid.

In February former Irish international star Hugo MacNeill was asked to chair the cross-border working group examining the issue.

It is understood an all-Ireland bid will be given the go ahead at an event in Armagh tomorrow morning.

As well as the traditional rugby stadiums such as the Aviva in Dublin, the Kingspan at Ravenhill in Belfast and Thomond Park in Limerick, a 2023 World Cup in Ireland would also hope to utilise a number of impressive Gaelic football venues, including the 82,300 capacity Croke Park in Dublin.

The Irish rugby team played their home matches in Croke Park between 2007 and 2010 while the Aviva stadium was being built on the site of the old Lansdowne Road ground.

Next year's Rugby World Cup will be hosted by England with Japan hosting the event in 2019.

Cross border bids to hold sporting events are not unheard of in Ireland and earlier this year cycling's Giro d'Italia held stages on both sides of the border.

In May, current Irish coach Joe Schmidt said an all-Ireland Rugby World Cup could replicate the success of his native New Zealand in its staging of the 2011 tournament.

"You have got the same population and the same kind of energy around sporting occasions and I think you have got the stadia," he said.

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