Hugo MacNeill delivered a powerful story on the planning and the prospects of Ireland hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 at Friday morning’s Sport for Business ‘Sporting Year Ahead event in Dublin.
Speaking to a packed audience of Sport for Business members in the CHQ Vaults MacNeill outlined how the Irish bid was focused on our being a nation of 70 million.
“When people say Ireland is small we say we’re not a stadium of 6 million or so, we say we’re part of a 70 million worldwide family of Irish people.”
“When Ireland has called the diaspora has answered. Hundreds of thousands came back for The Gathering and the organisers of that say we could exceed that — a party for six weeks, who’d want to miss that?”
“We have the network of the GAA behind us, and its 400 clubs around the world — we couldn’t do this tournament without the GAA. I went to see Paraic Duffy early on and he said it’s a no brainer: ‘if it’s good for Ireland it’s good for the GAA”
“When we combine the country and the diaspora it’s a powerful proposition.”
The decision making process will involve a lot of logistics and a major charm offensive culminating in a vote of the World Rugby Council, weighted in favour of the traditional rugby nations, on November 15th.
It is the biggest sporting decision that Ireland will face this year and it was a pleasure to be able to bring it into sharper focus for our audience.
We asked MacNeill what Ireland could do as a nation or as individuals to help the bid and the answer drew us back to the Special Olympics.
“The success of the tournament will be down to everyone on the island getting behind it. The people behind The Gathering thought they’d have 1,500 events organised for that but they ended up with 5,000, and the magic moment was when people felt it was their own project.
“We want to replicate that, to get people to come home – and to bring their friends back to see it as well. At home we want people and towns to make a fuss of teams that are visiting — the Special Olympics in 2003 was a case in point, when we took pride in our local places and shared that with the world.”
It will be trickier to recapture that in an era of professional rugby but it is a great benchmark to aim for and there is a real mix of passion and excellence in the team putting the bid together.
The morning had kicked off with a presentation from our partners for the event PSG Sponsorship looking at the trends likely to be key to sponsors success in the next twelve months.
Rob Pearson, Joanne O’Sullivan and Lisa Bergin took us through how smart product development such as the Samsung Blind Swim Cap; fan fairytales giving /’money can’t buy experiences and activation behind good causes were likely to come even more to the fore this year.
Analysis of ‘second screening or checking online sites and social media while watching sport revealed that this was as high as 74% among perhaps the key target for advertisers of the 25-34 year old millennials.
The social media theme was picked up on by Paul Buckley of Aer Lingus and Roisin Glynn of AIB who highlighted the work they have done and are planning in social in support of sponsorships in sport. The area of dark social and getting to grips with the ever changing nature of group communication is the biggest challenge they will face.
The morning wrapped up with a discussion with Darragh McGinley of the FAI on how success on the pitch was translating into ever more engagement and the FAI becoming a self publisher of key content; with Diarmaid Murphy of the GAA welcoming new sponsors Bord Gais Energy and Littlewoods to the multi sponsor model this year; and Garrett Tubridy highlighting the importance and the engagement of the Women’s rugby World Cup taking place in August in Dublin and Belfast.
Among those joining us for the event were representatives from Topaz Energy, Bord Gáis Energy, BDO, Standard Life, BSI Entertainment, Cricket Ireland, Littlewoods, Legacy Consultants, Titan Experience, My Club Finances, Arthur Cox, eir Sport, Ogilvy, Dublin GAA, Basketball Ireland, Cullen Communications, Huggity, Lidl, Livewire, Onside, Electric Media, OCS, TG4, the Racing Post, Corporate.ie, Cycling Ireland, Line Up SME, Galvin Sports Management, Murray Consultants, The Curragh and Leopardstown racecourses, Beauchamp Solicitors, the Gaelic Players Association, Thinkhouse, Sportego, JGA Associates, Sportease, Teamer, AIG, Atomic Sport, The Brand Fans, FAI, GAA, PSG Sponsorship, The Irish Greyhound Board, PSA Academies and Special Olympics