Rugby World Cup 2023: Disappointment expressed in Derry after World Rugby tips South Africa over Ireland

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World Rugby’s decision to recommend against Ireland’s selection as host of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 has been met with disappointment in Derry, which was touted as a potential venue for the competition.

Steve Bradley, a spokesperson for the ‘Derry for 2023’ campaign, which was established in January 2016 to lobby for Derry’s inclusion as a host city in the Irish bid, said: “It’s disappointing to hear that World Rugby’s independent assessors have recommended South Africa as potential hosts for the 2023 tournament.

“The South Africans have already hosted the event in the past - in 1995 - and the general feedback was that Ireland had submitted a very strong bid.

“There is an unofficial rule in rugby that the World Cup should alternate between northern and southern hemispheres and whilst that doesn’t always happen the fact that the 2015 and 2019 tournaments are both in the north would have helped South Africa’s case here.

“It is also disappointing news for Derry, as our city had made a strong case to be one of the host cities for games. A Rugby World Cup in Derry would have made a huge boost to the economy of the entire North West, and helped put our city on the global stage.”

Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion also expressed her disappointment after the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) board on Tuesday unanimously recommended to the World Rugby Council that South Africa should be selected as host.

The Foyle MP said: “I’m disappointed that Ireland has not been chosen by the Rugby World Cup board as the preferred candidate as the location for hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Those behind Ireland’s bid have said they will continue to lobby right up until the World Rugby Council makes it final decision in London on the November 15, and we wish them well in their efforts.”

Mr. Bradley also refused to give up hopes of a turnaround in Ireland’s favour.

“All is not lost, however, as the final say will be had by a vote of the World Rugby Council on November 15. Whilst this independent recommendation is liekly to hold great sway in that process, we hope that rugby’s individual nations will be more interested in growingn the game and taking it to new host nations than they are in taking it to a country where rugby is already extremely strong and the torunament has been held in the past.”

Mrs. McCallion, furthermore, said Derry should not be deterred from putting its name forward for future events.

“Regardless of the final decision it should not stop us from constantly being on the lookout for bringing large scale sporting tournaments to Ireland with Derry and wider region being part of those plans,” she said.