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A World Cup on Irish soil would be a spectacle like no other, say IRFU

By Nick Purewal

Ireland is in a unique position to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, according to Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne.

Browne was speaking at the end of an intensive two-day visit by the World Rugby Technical Review Group designed to assess the credibility of the tournament's prospective hosts.

Ireland is one of three nations currently in the running alongside France and South Africa - but the only one to have not yet hosted the event.

Browne said: "We are confident that Ireland 2023 will be a tournament like no other, with rugby at the heart of it, full of Irish spirit and commercial success.

"In addition, we believe the fact that Ireland has not previously hosted a Rugby World Cup is a positive dimension to our bid.

"It would, if successful, inspire and encourage other rugby unions throughout the world with aspirations to bid in the future, just as we were inspired by New Zealand's success in hosting the tournament in 2011.

"Furthermore, Ireland, as a first time host, would enhance the true global nature of rugby in the eyes of the international commercial and sporting world and support the ambition of growing the game across the globe."

Ireland's hopes of hosting the tournament were boosted last September when Italy withdrew its bid, leaving Ireland as the only first-time option.

Questions have also been raised about the status of the South African bid in the wake of Durban being stripped of hosting rights to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula had previously said that rugby would be banned from bidding to host future events - but retracted that statement during a visit from the technical review group last week.

Meanwhile, Cian Healy's lack of game time in this season's Six Nations doesn't bode well for a player with genuine aspirations of touring with the Lions and the Leinsterman now looks to be in a straight battle with Joe Marler for the third loosehead spot.

"I was happy with some things," Healy reflected. "I could have done with a bit more time, more mileage through the legs. You take what you get.

"I'd hoped (for more game time). You put the best foot forward and rely on the best team to be picked and don't argue.

"I am still getting back (to full fitness). I'm not at the level I want to be. Hopefully I will push myself forward this week and get some game time and be in a good position next week."

Meanwhile, two of RBAI's victorious Danske Bank Schools' Cup squad, James Hume and skipper Michael Lowry, have been named in Kieran Campbell's Ireland Under-19 squad to face Japan at Donnybrook on Saturday (4.30pm).

Ireland team: Conor Wharton (Leeds Beckett University), Mark Keane (Instonians), James Hume (RBAI), David McCarthy (Garryowen), Peter Sullivan (St. Andrew's College), Michael Lowry (RBAI), Hugh O'Sullivan (Belvedere College), James French (Bandon Grammar School), Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen), Tom O'Toole (Campbell College), Matt Dalton (Belfast Royal Academy), Jack Dunne (St. Michael's College), Jack Cooke (London Irish), Aaron Hall (Ballynahinch), Sean Masterson (Corinthians).

Replacements: Alexander Clarke (Ballymena Academy), Jordan Duggan (Naas), Bryan O'Connor (Presentation Brothers Cork), John McCusker (Rainey Old Boys, Max Kearney (Belvedere College), James Kenny (Gonzaga), Angus Curtis (Queen's University), Corey Reid (Marist College)

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