Rugby World Cup Cheers and Threats

The decision confirmed in Lima this week that Paris will host the 2024 Olympic Games is great for that City and perhaps even better for Ireland’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

The fact that Los Angeles will be opening its arms to the Games in 2028 is also of some potential benefit if hints and suggestions of a US bid to host Rugby’s blue riband event in 2027 also materialise.

Sources that we have spoken to in Japan suggest that the 2019 Rugby World Cup is playing second fiddle to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in terms of public awareness and commercial appeal.

World Rugby has done a brilliant job of establishing the tournament as the fourth biggest global sports event after the Olympics the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships. It stands comparison to any other sporting gathering but when staged so close to one that’s even bigger it does not shine as it might.

There is little doubt that Japan will be a great success but if lessons are to be learned one may be that going to a host country only one year before the biggest sporting show on the planet may not be to best advantage.

The Irish bid team would never say as much but the ‘scheduling clash’ that will now prevent French President Emmanuel Macron from attending the major day of presentations in London on September 25th is another small way in which the French bid may be seen to be losing some of its lustre.

Continued investigations over governance within French Rugby all the way to the top will not be cleared away over the coming weeks and it may yet be that South Africa emerges as a bigger challenge.

This would have been difficult to foresee when the country’s Rugby authorities were all but prohibited from bidding over a slower than expected adoption of equality initiatives at home.

The sport is not doing well at present. Stepping away from Super Rugby and a disappointing start to life for two top club teams in the Guinness PRO14 are indicative of a malaise within the sport that some within the game may see as in urgent need of the injection of impetus that a hosting of a World Cup would bring.

Ellis Park, Nelson Mandela, and Francois Pienaar made a mark within World Rugby during the iconic tournament of 1995. That was a moment that brought a nation to life. There is a line of thinking that the same is needed now to prevent one of the traditional pillars of the sport from fading away.

That said Ireland’s bid remains the favourite with Paddy power quoting odds of 2/7, shorter than those of Dublin to win the All Ireland Football Final this weekend.

South Africa has leapfrogged France into second place though and is building momentum.

All three bids were lodged in the summer and the next stage of the presentation will be key to answer any queries and to inspire those who will vote to make the right choice.

We hope that will be for Ireland and we know that the team in place will be giving it the best shot on our national behalf.

Like any well-prepared team though you need to be acutely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. President Macron and the International Olympic Committee may have helped us a little in recent days and weeks, but the race is never won until the line is crossed.

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 Image Credit Presseye Darren Kidd

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