Speaking in the Seanad during the debate on the Rugby World Cup Bill, Fine Gael Senator and rugby player, Neale Richmond, has stated that an ill-informed minority cannot be allowed to jeopardise Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“One of the most used phrases over the last few days by certain public representatives and commentators is ‘I fully support the bid but…’. You hear it from those who pretend to support the bid before proceeding to jeopardise and undermine it through faux concerns and pedantic nit picking.
“Every facet and requirement of this bid has been in the public domain since 2013. The requirement to pass a Bill to underwrite the bid is a minor alteration to what has been a transparent process that has been discussed at length in the media, at Oireachtas Committee meetings and many other fora.
“The legislative debate has however been used by some to garner a headline or have a cut at other issues, some parochial, some ideological, which do not come in to the remit of this Bill. The economics of this bid are sound and should be seen as a solid investment that will return a substantial profit both in economic terms and also in social terms, promoting healthy communities through the example of sport.
“The attempts to undermine this bid based on obvious commercial requirements show a glaring lack of knowledge. It is especially disappointing to hear it coming from experienced politicians and commentators in some cases.
“In addition, the attempts to guarantee free to air coverage of the entire tournament are reckless and run counter to the overall aim to present Ireland as the best possible tournament host, compliant to the rules and needs of World Rugby.
“Bidding for the Rugby World Cup is an extremely competitive process. We are doing everything required to give ourselves the opportunity of bringing this incredible tournament to Ireland, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and a television audience of multiple millions. We must be flexible in approach but at all times convincing that Ireland is the best possible host.
“This is a good bid and one of our strongest selling points is the total political support of this bid both North and South, which is in stark contrast to the South African bid. Bringing the Rugby World Cup to Ireland offers tremendous opportunities; it can showcase the whole island of Ireland in a superb manner, working collectively to bring about something so positive.
“As a young boy I vividly remember my late Father bringing me to my first Ireland rugby match, a midweek game versus Japan during the 1991 Rugby World Cup attended by 30,000 people.
“I have been fortunate to attend hundreds of Ireland rugby matches since then, both in Dublin and further afield, but that first outing copper fastened a love for the game in me and so many others that can be replicated in boys and girls across Ireland if we secure the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“As a collective, politicians need to come together and wholly back this bid. If we do secure it, it will be no thanks to those who sought to nit-pick, well aware of the consequences of their actions. If we do not secure the bid, they will have to answer to the boys and girls of Ireland who will have been robbed of this wonderful opportunity.”