The group campaigning for Derry to be included in Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup claim the local economy will miss out on £70 million and more than 1,000 new jobs if the city isn’t involved.
Their figures are based on a report by international consultancy firm Ernst & Young into the economic impact of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Their study showed that last year’s tournament created almost £1 billion of new economic value for the English economy and supported 41,000 jobs.
Ernst & Young also conducted detailed analysis of the impact the tournament had on certain host cities and these figures have been used to estimate the potential benefit to Derry.
One of the Ernst & Young case studies was Exeter - a geographically isolated city in the south-west of England with a population similar to Derry’s. It’s Sandy Park stadium has a capacity of only 12,500, and was the smallest venue used in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Ernst & Young’s analysis found that Exeter’s economy benefited from £39 million of added value in the lead up to and during its involvement in the Rugby World Cup tournament, with a total of 566 new jobs created.
Derry For 2023 spokesperson, Steve Bradley, says: “Exeter was the smallest host city in England’s Rugby World Cup, with the smallest stadium involved. Yet it still reaped a big economic and jobs dividend from taking part. Exeter is only slightly larger than Derry, has a similar infrastructure, and also had a stadium that required expansion and refurbishment.
“Applying the Ernst & Young figures to Derry hosting three Rugby World Cup group-stage games in a 25,000 capacity Celtic Park (pictured), we estimate the economy here would benefit by over £70m. and 1,100 new jobs”.
The decision on which stadiums and cities will be included in Ireland’s bid will be taken by an Oversight Board set up to lead the project. Chaired by former TD and Irish rugby international Dick Spring, it includes members from the Irish Rugby Football Union, Ulster Rugby, the GAA and representatives from government north and south of the border.
All reports suggest that the Board is currently considering twelve stadium locations in eight towns and cities - with only Belfast included in the North.
Steve Bradley says: “The Oversight Board is emphasising the cross-border nature of Ireland’s bid. Northern Ireland has a quarter of the island’s population so, on that basis, should have three of the twelve stadiums proposed. Currently we’re only getting two, both of which are in Belfast.
“So, we’re calling on the Northern Ireland Executive and Ulster Rugby to fight Northern Ireland’s corner and secure an extra venue in Derry.”