Irish politician blames Brexit for Ireland’s failed Rugby World Cup bid

Irish politician blames Brexit for Ireland’s failed Rugby World Cup bid

AN Irish MEP has blamed Ireland’s failed bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Former GAA president and current Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly claimed that Brexit was the deciding factor in yesterday’s disappointing outcome for Ireland’s Bid Committee.

A technical review group recommended South Africa as the tournament hosts on Tuesday, dashing Irish hopes of hosting the competition for the first time – though a final decision will not be made until later this month.

According to Mr Kelly, the effect of Brexit on Ireland’s “dashed hopes” should not be underestimated.

“In my opinion, this outcome could be put down to Brexit and the uncertainty the UK’s departure from the EU has created for Northern Ireland and surrounding the question of a hard or soft border, security checks and so on,” he said.

“This is the hard reality of Brexit and the damage it poses for all citizens on the island of Ireland.

“Despite the EU27’s strong commitment to the island of Ireland and the fact that no one wants to see the return of a hard border, the slow progress of Brexit negotiations and apparent instability of the UK government may have added to that uncertainty in recent months.”

Mr Kelly also said that a sole Republic of Ireland bid “may be a more viable option” once Britain finally leaves the EU.

He added: “Brexit would have been a factor in the decision-making process for such a large-scale tournament.”

The Kerry-born MEP was speaking after the Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, told the launch of 2018’s GAA Master Fixture Plan that a “final decision” on Ireland’s bid to host the competition had not yet been made.

“I’m a member of the Oversight Bid Committee so it’s a matter for the IRFU to make a comment. The one thing I would say is, it’s not the final decision,” said Mr Duffy.

“This is a difficult setback but one that we can overcome.”

World Rugby’s technical review group ranked Ireland as the third best option to host RWC 2023 behind France and South Africa as part of their recommendation on Tuesday.

Though the group’s recommendation is not final, it will carry considerable weight ahead of the World Rugby Council’s concluding vote on November 15.