RUGBY WORLD CUP: Ireland moves step closer to host 2023 tournament

Celtic Park, Derry. (Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)
Celtic Park, Derry. (Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)

The Rugby World Cup moved a step closer to Derry after it was revealed Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 tournament is through to the final stages of the selection process.

With Celtic Park one of the designated grounds should the bid prove successful, both First Minister Arlene Foster, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA, welcomed the announcement from World Rugby who confirmed France, Ireland and South Africa as Rugby World Cup 2023 host candidates.

First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Executive is a strong supporter of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and it’s excellent news we are now through to the next phase of the process.

“The potential to host the Rugby World Cup 2023 presents a fantastic opportunity to showcase our excellent rugby talent, magnificent facilities and legendary hospitality to rugby fans across the world. Northern Ireland has what it takes to host world class events and the Executive will continue to work hard to bring this great sporting event here in 2023.”

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said: “I congratulate all of those involved in helping reach the next phase in hosting RWC 2023.

“South Africa and France are formidable opponents, however, I believe the partnership between sport organisations, Government and local businesses can provide a winning combination in ensuring a successful event. I am certain everyone here will get behind the Ireland bid and look forward next year when the final decision on who will host RWC 2023 is made in November 2017.”

Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA added: “It is tremendous news we are through to the Candidate Phase of hosting The Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most commercially successful event to date and with large numbers of travelling fans and spectators the opportunity to host RWC 2023 would provide a major boost for local businesses, the tourism industry and the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.”