GAA goes for Rugby World Cup, in the 'national interest'
The lads in charge at HQ have decided to put their own feelings aside as they look to help out Ireland’s Rugby World Cup hosting ambitions.
By Declan Whooley
While we won’t be booking our holidays and putting up the ‘For Let’ sign in our garden just yet, the lads in charge of the GAA are pulling out all the stops to help Ireland land the job of hosting a Rugby World Cup in 2023 or 2027.
Over the weekend they voted unanimously to help out the IRFU and head honcho Liam O’Neill explained the reasons behind the decision.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, O’Neill said. "The organisation has always been willing to put the country first. We've always been willing to put the national interest ahead of our own narrow interest and we were proud to do it the last time (opening Croke Park)."
The opening up for rugby the last time was a huge success but this time the plan goes beyond Jones’ Road.
An ambitious plan would see the securing of six GAA grounds to complement the seven rugby stadia currently available, plus the use of the Tallaght Stadium. Croke Park, Fitzgerald Stadium, the Gaelic Grounds, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Casement Park and Pearse Stadium have all been earmarked by the IRFU to make the proposal a viable option.
In what appears to be a strategic plan of placing a pool in each province, Semple Stadium and Nowlan Park were left out. The economic impact on New Zealand from hosting the 2011 World Cup has alerted the government to the potential windfall that could ensue from staging the event in Ireland.
It is envisaged that the quarter-finals would feature one match in each province, with the semi-finals in Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium. The final itself would take place in GAA headquarters as it is the only stadium that holds more than the required 60,000 spectators.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar is said to be keen on the project, and well he should be. The New Zealand economy benefitted by more than €450 million from hosting last year’s World Cup, with an estimated further €900 million forecasted in legacy revenue.
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne confirmed that preliminary discussions had taken place with the GAA, and that the government is supportive of investigating the proposal further. “The Rugby World Cup in New Zealand showed what a country of four million people could achieve in terms of attracting visitors and showcasing the potential of a country”.
Browne has stated that Government support is vital in order to bring the world’s third largest sporting event to these shores. "We are at the early stages of examining the feasibility of a bid and part of this study is to determine the interest and support of Government and other relevant bodies," he said.