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Saturday 16 December 2017

Lancaster backing Irish bid all way

Englishman believes Ireland would be 'unbelievable' host for 2023 World Cup

Sebastien Chabal, #France2023 Leader and Bid Ambassador, with Brayley and Dhyreille Lomu, children of Jonah Lomu, made an emotional plea for France to be awarded World Cup 2023 host status
Sebastien Chabal, #France2023 Leader and Bid Ambassador, with Brayley and Dhyreille Lomu, children of Jonah Lomu, made an emotional plea for France to be awarded World Cup 2023 host status

Ireland. South Africa. France. Take your pick.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont lauded the vision presented before the World Rugby Council, constituting 39 members, by the three countries in London yesterday.

"It's clear from the presentations that we have three exceptionally strong, impressive and exciting bids with full government support," he said.

"Each, I believe, is capable of hosting a superb Rugby World Cup."

Taking this at face value, Ireland may just stand out from the other two because, quite simply, it can be a new frontier in 2023.

South Africa held a ground-breaking World Cup in 1995 and France hosted the event in 2007.

The Irish battalion of backers included An Taosieach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Sport Shane Ross, former Tánaiste and Ireland full-back Dick Spring, IRFU Chief Executive Phillip Browne and Brian O'Driscoll.

Myriad

The official Ireland video, entitled 'Ready for the World', was narrated by Liam Neeson and drew on the myriad of accomplishments at home and abroad, as well as a hint at the reach out to the diaspora in the United States.

"This bid represents the hopes and aspirations of the entire island of Ireland and is focused firmly on the future of rugby and our communities," said Varadkar.

"It presents World Rugby with a compelling proposition, that combines all the advantages of a traditional rugby market with the many opportunities of a new territory."

Here again, the Taoiseach points from the west coast of Ireland to the east coast of the United States, a unique selling point as World Rugby looks to tap into the most prosperous sports broadcast market.

Back across the Irish sea, Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster was the England head coach during the 2015 World Cup.

"I'm keen to support Ireland's bid, 100pc," he said. "In the lead-up to the bid for the 2015 World Cup, I wasn't involved in the actual delegations, so to speak.

"But, obviously, I was working for the RFU (Rugby Football Union) at the time. Then, we got the bid and then we had the whole lead-up to the World Cup and the experience itself.

"I feel really qualified to understand what it takes to run a successful World Cup, having been involved in England's.

"You couldn't fault the RFU for what they did in terms of the preparation and the way the public embraced it."

He sees a strong similarity between the Ireland cause and that of his country.

"The government were behind it right the way through and obviously led the bid," he said.

"The soccer clubs that we used were supportive. The English people got behind it. From grassroots rugby right the way through to elite game, the Premiership clubs.

"Everyone was behind the bid and I think that's what made it a successful bid. When I look at Ireland, I see the same thing, in a different context to the government obviously.

"The IRFU, the GAA clubs, the country would do a fantastic job in hosting the event.

"I think it's a very, very strong bid and I think personally, when you go through the 2015 World Cup, it was the spectator experience that stood out. You name me a country that would do the job of (hosting) top-level sporting events along with great social experience?

"I think Ireland ticks all of those boxes."

It has taken the Cumbrian Lancaster the stretch of a season to learn, in greater detail, of Ireland's overall financial and spiritual investment in sport.

He added: "I've lived here for a year now and I didn't really understand how many good stadiums there are in the country, when you include the GAA stadiums.

"Obviously, Thomond Park and up in Ulster and over in Connacht, I've played those stadiums and I know what it feels like to play at the Aviva."

Lancaster even managed to take in a fuller flavour of the country by securing a ticket to Galway's victory over Waterford.

"I went to the All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park and I could see how big these events are in Ireland and how well run they are.

"I think Ireland's bid is a very, very strong bid and I think it would an unbelievable place to bring the world to and bring the island alive."

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