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Ulster venues key to Ireland's Rugby World Cup 2023 bid

By Jonathan Bradley

Belfast's Casement Park, Kingspan Stadium and Celtic Park in Derry will have a pivotal role in bringing the 2023 Rugby World Cup to Ireland. The 17,000 capacity Derry gaelic football citadel was a surprise inclusion as IRFU CEO Philip Browne said bid organisers have 12 months to prove a tournament held in Ireland would be a unique spectacle.

Ireland hosted their launch event at the Aviva Stadium yesterday as one of three unions vying to follow on from Japan as host of the third largest sporting event in the world.

The others are France and South Africa, who have both played host in the recent past, and a decision will be made in November of 2017 after final bids are submitted in June.

"The hard work only starts now," Browne said. "We have 12 months to persuade the rest of the world that this is something worth doing. From a fan experience it is going to be absolutely unique and can't be delivered anywhere else in the world."

With a capacity of over 30,000, the proposed new Casement Park provides the only chance of bringing the game's biggest sides north of the border.

After initial plans were blocked by opposition from residents in 2014, new proposals are hoped to have the west Belfast venue redeveloped in time for an opening fixture in 2020.

Celtic Park is the smallest of the 12 stadia included on the long list of proposed venues.

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