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Just when you thought about a possible trip to the Rugby World Cup Japan in 2019, suddenly, the media turn to the 2023 RWC tournament. The top two hosting possibilities (Ireland and South Africa) were reduced to one as the South Africa Sports Minister announced that, since some major sports (rugby, cricket, netball, and athletics) in that country had not achieved targeted transformation goals, none could apply to host major international events. Only professional soccer in South Africa met the government's objectives.
This, virtually, assures Ireland of winning the bid as the tournament returns again to Europe, the past location of the highly successful French-hosted RWC in 2007, and last year’s all time RWC attendance leader in England and Wales.
The deadline for the hosting submission expires June 16, 2016, and the decision of which nation will host the 2023 RWC will be announced May 2017.
Already, questions about Ireland and Northern Ireland stadium feasibility have surfaced, pointing out that only the Aviva and Croke Park venues can accommodate the large, RWC rugby crowds. Two other stadiums – Thormond Park, Limerick (25,000) and Kingspan, Belfast (18,000) – are considered adequate but only for the least attended games.
Remember that England in 2015 utilized many professional soccer stadiums with 30,000 plus seating capacity. These do not exist in Ireland.
Its many years away for this 2023 event, and Ireland, should it win the bid, will find a solution to the stadium issue. One idea would be to partner with Scotland, which was left out of any stadium hosting in the 2015 RWC. The Scots could offer Murrayfield (67,000), Ibrox Stadium home of the soccer football Rangers (50,000), and Celtic Park, another professional soccer venue with 60,000 plus capacity.