THE IRFU ARE considering a bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023, and noises from today’s GAA central council meeting suggest that the association is ready to back the bid by opening up its stadia to the oval ball game.
With the Aviva Stadium, the RDS, Thomond Park and Ravenhill the largest venues for rugby in the country, the IRFU say they understand:
“Any bid would be heavily dependent on support from the Government and the GAA.”
The GAA’s rules prohibit the use of its grounds to be used for rugby or association football, but this was relaxed in 2005 when both codes were played in Croke Park.
The added infrastructure of the Jones Road venue along with Semple Stadium, the Gaelic Grounds and Páirc Uí Chaoimh would add considerable weight to the Union’s case.
A statement released by the GAA this afternoon did not rule out the opening of venues and promised the issue would be put to congress this winter.
“The Central Council of the GAA agreed to ask 2013 Congress if it is willing to amend Rule 5.1 to allow up to six GAA grounds to be used for the Rugby World Cup, in the event of a successful IRFU bid to host the 2023 or 2027 tournament.
“The decision to place a motion on the 2013 Congress agenda allows the IRFU to proceed to explore the feasibility of an application.”
It is understood that the IRFU now have a year to decide if they will present their case before the IRB. Until GAA congress ratifies a rule change then the plan will remain firmly on the ground.
New Zealand hosted and won the 2011 World Cup, 2015 will see England attempt to emulate the feat and in 2019 the game’s show-piece event will take place in Japan.
“The Rugby World Cup in New Zealand showed what a country of four million people could achieve in terms of attracting visitors,” Browne said in a statement, “so an overall Ireland bid is something that the government was keen to discuss with us.”