Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland in line for £700m boost if Rugby World Cup bid wins

By Ryan Nugent

They have beaten the All Blacks, now Ireland must conquer the Springboks and France in a bid to bring almost £700m into the economy by hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Chairman of Ireland's RWC bid, Dick Spring, announced Ireland's entry into the final phase of the selection process, with 12 stadiums - eight of them GAA - earmarked to host matches in the showpiece tournament.

It is predicted that the event would be worth over £692m to the economy, with a massive 445,000 fans predicted to travel to Ireland for the matches.

This would make it potentially the biggest rugby tournament ever, given that large numbers will make the short hop from England, Scotland and Wales.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness joined Mr Spring, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross and rugby hall of famer Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland launched its Ready for the World campaign.

Thanking the GAA for making Ireland's bid possible, Mr McGuinness said: "The 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is a bid for all the people of Ireland, and the Executive will make every effort to make it a winning bid.

"We have a proven track record of hosting major global events including the G8, Giro d'Italia, MTV Music Awards, the World Police and Fire Games, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the Irish Open Golf Championship."

If the bid - to be decided on in November 2017 - is successful, Croke Park is already certain to host both semi-finals and the final. It hosts 82,500 fans, making it the only stadium above the 60,000 capacity required.

Organisers say at least one quarter-final will be held outside Dublin, with the rest expected to take place between GAA headquarters and the Aviva Stadium.

Speaking after a 90-second Ready for the World video, narrated by Ballymena film star Liam Neeson, Mr Kenny said: "We have every reason to believe we will win the right to host 2023." However, he said there is still a long way to go.

The Fine Gael leader referred to the fact it is an all-island bid, saying that sport unites people.

Three stadiums are being considered in Dublin, two in Belfast and one in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Kilkenny, Kerry and Derry.

"It really pleases me, given all the challenges that we face economically and politically, here is an outstanding example of two governments backing the bid for the right to host 2023," the Taoiseach said.

"It's not just about having the stadia. It's about the personality of the people - this is a sports-mad country, whether you're McDowell or Lowry or Harrington or whoever.

"What rugby are looking for is a truly remarkable world cup, and they'll get it here."

Belfast Telegraph

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