by Frank Schnittger
Tue Sep 26th, 2017 at 01:26:24 PM EST
Ireland is competing with France and South Africa for the right to host the 2023 Rugby World cup. It's an important issue for Ireland because the economic benefit could be as much as 1.5 Billion, and it provides an opportunity for North South cooperation post Brexit. Rugby is one of the few major activities that are organised on an all island basis with very little of the sectarian or Governmental divisions seen in other areas.
Gerry Thornley has a piece up in the Irish Times looking at the voting blocs and how they might vote in deciding who gets the next Rugby World Cup. Update [2017-9-30 19:22:51 by Frank Schnittger]: He has now also added a piece on the Pros and Cons of the three bids
If the IRFU have done their homework and lobbied all the right people, then Ireland should be capable of attracting 22 votes and an overall majority even on the first round ballot. However that assumes Ireland wins the recommendation of the technical committee and that our competitors haven't bribed the relevant officials and Unions in some of the swing vote members (as routinely happens with the Olympics and FIFA World Cup).
France is certainly offering a higher up front dividend to World Rugby but their guarantees don't seem as watertight. Will they deliver on their promises? Also, if any of the smaller Unions ever want a chance to host the tournament themselves they might be more inclined to set a precedent by awarding the World Cup to a smaller Union. Awarding it to France again, so soon after their last Rugby World Cup in 2007, sends a signal that only the larger Unions need apply.
Ireland has certainly demonstrated greater Government support for our bid, both North and South, with Taoiseach Leo Varadker leading the Irish bid in person, and Theresa May writing a letter of support and with both Governments guaranteeing the finances and freedom of movement on the island post Brexit.
Meanwhile President Macron has refused to endorse the French bid personally because of a conflict of interest scandal involving French Rugby Federation President, Bernard Laporte. The threat that the French Top 14 will continue to buy up all the best players if they don't get the World Cup seems a very dubious ploy, and involving Jonah Lomu's two young sons in their bid is just in poor taste.
The South African Rugby Union have been at war with their government until very recently over racial quotas and they have also just lost two Super rugby Franchises. Their standard of play has gone way down and harking back to the Mandela era and their successful hosting of the World Cup in 1995 just highlights their fall from grace.
So the omens look good for the Irish bid, with the technical recommendation and financial contribution issues the major outstanding concerns. But who knows what happens in the world of global sports administration?