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Devil is in the detail as hard work begins for World Cup bid

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Forward planning: Hugo MacNeill with Stormont Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster when the bid’s working committee was set up earlier this year

Forward planning: Hugo MacNeill with Stormont Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster when the bid’s working committee was set up earlier this year

?INPHO/Presseye/Kelvin Boyes

Forward planning: Hugo MacNeill with Stormont Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster when the bid’s working committee was set up earlier this year

Now that the IRFU have reached the point of no return with their bid, it is worth examining what the next steps are.

In 2012, Deloitte conducted a feasibility study on Ireland hosting a World Cup through their Sports Business Group.

They cited various stadia within that study, but according to IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne, these venues are "not finalised at all."

For example Chairman of the bid, former international full-back Hugo MacNeill, shared his knowledge of how England actually used Old Trafford in their initial proposal, only to drop it from the final bid.

As Ireland are the first country to declare an interest, their rivals are not confirmed.

Browne ventured: "Who knows at this stage, other than it has been out there that South Africa have stated an interest. Italy have bid before and have stated an interest. Argentina have stated an interest, France maybe, and maybe USA.

"So we are under no illusions. It's going to be a competitive process and we have to put our best foot forward."

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In declaring that "the hard work starts now," Browne continued: "I think the Rugby World Cup is working on timelines at the minute.

"They will start an informal process of coming here in 2015, effectively briefing countries that are interested, the sort of information and corporate memory that they have of previous World Cups that we can use in putting our bid together.

"The formal invitation to tender documents will be released in 2016 and a decision made in 2017. That's as it is at the moment, subject to change."

As Chairman of the bid, MacNeill admitted it took some time to get to this point, explaining: "We have just been focused on Phase One. Phase Two needs to be a design of now that we are going for it, how do we win it?

"So, the model that New Zealand used, which would probably be most comparative to us, was they put together their bid vehicle. Then, they got an advisory board and support and brought in the complementary skills. That will be our next phase. Our work was to get to this phase now."

Both men had warm praise for the help of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Having them on board and willing to lend their venues has meant Ireland are able to make their case without needing outside help from other countries.

"We are lucky that we have the GAA on board," said Browne.

"The physical infrastructure is there or thereabouts. The tourism infrastructure - there's no problem with that - so we have all the elements to make this work."

MacNeill has been working closely with GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy and has been enthused by his attitude.

"The GAA have been fantastic," he said.

"Their attitude is that it is fantastic. It's great for the island of Ireland and therefore they are getting behind. But they also see it as a great way of providing our sport on a world stage. Over 200 countries will take the broadcasting, and it's a chance for them to demonstrate the grounds, the unique history of the GAA as well."

He added: "We couldn't consider it without them. Now, not only do they have the stadium, they have a great geographical spread across the island."

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