Plans for an Ireland bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup are expected to be unveiled to government officials tomorrow.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s minister for transport, tourism and sport, said he will seek approval from cabinet colleagues to mount a bid to stage the tournament in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking on the opening day of the International Rugby Board conference in Dublin today, Varadkar said: "I think Ireland is very well placed to host the Rugby World Cup. The next step for me is to go to cabinet tomorrow and to seek authorisation with a view to putting together the bid.
A recent study by Deloitte, the professional services firm, found that a World Cup in Ireland in 2023 could deliver an €800-million ($1.08-billion) boost to the economy, with 337,000 visitors expected to be attracted to the region by the tournament.
Major rugby venues in Ireland, such as the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Thomond Park in Limerick and Ravenhill in Belfast, would not be enough to host the tournament, but the Irish Rugby Football Union was boosted earlier this year when it won the overwhelming support of the Gaelic Athletic Association to use its Gaelic sports stadia, including Dublin’s Croke Park, in any World Cup bid.
The 82,300-capacity Croke Park is Ireland’s biggest sports stadium, and until 2005 so-called ‘English’ sports, such as rugby union, were not allowed by the GAA to take place at the stadium, which regularly hosts hurling and Gaelic football events.
However, 93 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the Rugby World Cup plan at the GAA’s annual congress in March.
Another 10 Gaelic sports grounds would also be considered as possible venues.
Ireland could face rival bids from USA, Russia and South Africa to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which will be awarded in 2017.
England will host the event in 2015 and Japan in 2019.