Ireland won't give up on Rugby World Cup despite knockback
The Irish Rugby Football Union is vowing to fight until the last despite receiving a devastating blow to its hopes of staging the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Ireland yesterday came last of the three bidders when the Rugby World Cup Ltd's technical review group recommended that South Africa is its preferred host, with France second.
That was despite Ireland's bid being fronted by leading rugby names such as Brian O'Driscoll, while celebrities such as Bono of U2, Bob Geldof and actor Liam Neeson were all part of the official bid.
Although it stated that all three countries are capable of staging the tournament, the Irish bid fell short when it came to stadia when compared to two countries that have recently hosted big football tournaments and have a wide range of state of the art venues to call upon.
In contrast, the Irish bid contains a number of GAA stadiums in need of renovation in order to be up to the standard needed, including the recently opened Pairc ui Chaoimh and the not-yet built Casement Park.
The recommendation is expected to carry heavy weight when it comes to the final World Rugby Council vote in London on November 15.
The IRFU say they will continue their lobbying efforts in an attempt to sell their vision of what the Irish tournament could achieve.
"We were never quite sure how this phase was going to end, because this was new for Rugby World Cup," union chief operations officer Kevin Potts said.
"We saw the report this morning like everyone else and it is ruthlessly, objectively clinical which is a good thing in some respects.
Potts added: “However, the next phase is about bringing Ireland’s strengths at an emotional level to the voters — many of whom resonate with what Ireland has to offer.
“Not every union has world-class soccer stadia on which to host tournaments, other unions will be looking to see how this pans out because they have their own aspirations.
“What Ireland has done and will do over the next two weeks is move from the clinical... it’s a positive report, albeit yes we’ve come in behind South Africa and France, but we’ve confirmed on a technical basis our capacity to host a Rugby World Cup.
“Over the next two weeks, we’ll try and convince the voters of the aptitudes of why Ireland still offers a tournament that’s worthy of hosting RWC 2023 for reasons that are not purely technical.”
GAA director general Paraic Duffy, who is on the Irish bid oversight committee, expressed his disappointment with the recommendation and said nothing has changed when it comes to the stadia the GAA have put forward for the bid.
“We offered our stadia as they are. Everybody recognised that if the tournament does come here, work will have to be done to the stadia. There is nothing new in that,” he said.
“What has come out this morning is disappointing. It’s not the final decision. I’ve no doubt that the bid team will work really, really hard over the next couple of weeks.”
Ireland failed to come out on top of any of the five major categories considered by the technical review group as it achieved the lowest score of 72.25%. South Africa were top in three categories, scoring a total of 78.97%, with France, who topped two categories, in between on 75.88%.
The process now moves to the final stage, which sees the delegates of the World Rugby Council vote on the hosting rights on November 15 in London.
The remaining Six Nations and SANZAAR unions not involved in the process have three votes each, while six regional associations and Japan have two. Georgia, Canada, USA and Romania have one each.
French union president Bernard Laporte dismissed Ireland, saying: “A final is taking shape in which France and South Africa will go head-to-head. A new match is beginning.”