Planet Rugby

Irish bid moves a step closer

22nd January 2014 13:46

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Ireland's hopes of hosting the 2023 RWC have gathered pace as a cross-border working group was created.

Ministers from Belfast and Dublin gathered in Armagh to discuss the now likely prospect of a joint pitch to stage the sport's showpiece event.

Stormont sports minister Caral Ni Chuilin and tourism minister Arlene Foster met with the Republic's Leo Varadkar and Michael Ring.

"The island of Ireland has a lot to offer the global rugby family and there would be a lot of benefits to be gained by hosting such a prestigious event," said Ni Chilin after meeting with the Republic duo.

"The (Stormont) Executive is investing £110m in upgrading stadiums in Belfast which includes the redevelopment of Ravenhill (the home of Ulster).

"While we would have world class venues to host the Rugby World Cup, there is a lot of work required to get us into a position to make a successful bid."

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar was convinced that Ireland could host a successful tournament.

"Minister Ring and I were delighted to meet with ministers Foster and Ni Chuilin to discuss the possibility of making a formal bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup," he said.

"It was a very useful meeting and we have now agreed to set up a working group to draw up the road map for our bid.

"It's still very early days, but the four of us believe that Ireland has what it takes to host a cracking World Cup."

Mrs Foster added: "Attracting major international events is a key element of the Northern Ireland's Programme for Government.

"As we already know, sport is an incredibly powerful sales tool that has the power to attract thousands of international visitors.

"Northern Ireland hosted the hugely successful Irish Open in 2012 and this year, La Grande Partenza or Big Start of the Giro d'Italia will take place in May.

"Hosting events such as this provides us with a tremendous opportunity to grow tourism, boost visitor spending, and stimulate the continued growth of the Northern Ireland economy."

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