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Volume 7 No. 83
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Failed Bid To Host 2023 Rugby World Cup Cost Irish Rugby Football Union, Taxpayers $3.8M

The Irish Rugby Football Union and "governments north and south were left counting the cost of Ireland's failure" to secure the 2023 Rugby World Cup, according to Ruaidhri O'Connor of the IRISH INDEPENDENT. Between them, they invested €3.25M ($3.8M) into securing the tournament. IRFU CEO Philip Browne said, "The bid cost was probably in the region of €3.2 million ($3.77M) to €3.25 million. We have put in about €1.75 million ($2M), the government in the Republic have put in about €1.25 million ($1.5M) and the Northern Ireland government put in about €250,000 ($294,200). It's very disappointing. It was particularly disappointing that Scotland and Wales didn't support their nearest neighbors" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 11/16). In London, Niamh Lyons reported Ireland Minister for Sport Shane Ross defended the country's RWC bid. The losing bid "cast doubt on whether the government should allow a future bid to go forward" for such a large-scale int'l event. Ross: "I know we can take consolation in the fact that we did everything possible to make sure that our bid was more than capable of succeeding. Sadly, the day is not ours. However, I predict that there will be a lot of Irish people taking holidays in France in 2023." Business leaders had estimated that if Ireland secured the 2023 RWC, it would have been worth about €2B ($2.4B) to the economy. The decision "was seen as a blow for bids from smaller nations," with many believing commercial revenues from holding the event in a larger country were prioritized over "the tournament spectacle" (LONDON TIMES, 11/16).

MONEY TALKS: In London, Owen Slot commented the truth that we learned about rugby union "is that money rules the game." As the votes were counted on Wednesday, "it became clear that this had been an arms race between three candidates running with very different arsenals." Former player Brian O’Driscoll, an ambassador for the Ireland bid, "made a vain appeal for a more altruistic future for the World Cup." He said, "You have got to spread the load and develop the game and you have got to look beyond the nations that have already hosted it." Browne: "The reality is that unless you have big shiny new stadia, you have to wonder why you would bid" (LONDON TIMES, 11/16).

IN SOUTH AFRICA: The PA reported World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont "denied being humiliated, repeatedly defending the bidding process as open and transparent." He said, "A humiliation for me? I don't think so. We've made a recommendation. The recommendation wasn't accepted by council. Just because it went to France doesn't mean there's humiliation whatsoever." South Africa Rugby CEO Jurie Roux insisted South Africa would take the experience "on the chin" and that "it would not put them off making a future bid." Roux: "If it depends on me, absolutely. ... We'll try again. At some stage we need to bring it back. Hopefully 2027" (PA, 11/15).

COLLATERAL DAMAGE: In Dublin, Martin Breheny reported the IRFU "will take the main hit from Ireland's failed attempt" to host the 2023 RWC, but the Gaelic Athletic Association "faces collateral damage too." Several of the GAA's county grounds were featured in the bid, which, if successful, "would have resulted in major upgrades." Most of it "would have been funded by Rugby World Cup and government finance and, in addition, ground rent for the games would also have flowed into the Croke Park coffers." GAA Dir General Páraic Duffy said that it was a "major setback for Ireland to lose out on staging such a big event and also spoke of the direct losses to the GAA." Duffy: "We would have gained financially too. There was an agreement in place in relation to the renting of our grounds. It would have brought in a substantial amount of money" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 11/16).