Limerick is set to miss out on significant investments following World Rugbys decision to choose France over Ireland for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
It is estimated that the tournament would have brought €800m to Irish shores with a large portion of that money being brought to Limerick.
The majority of the money generated from the tournament would have been invested in Dublin as it would play host to the biggest games. However you just need to look at England’s extremely successful 2015 World Cup to see how much it benefited other cities. The tournament generated €1.1bn for England
London, just like Dublin would have, generated the most money as it hosted the most games. However Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Cardiff all received major economic boosts from the tournament.
It is estimated that Limerick, Galway, Cork and Belfast would all receive similar boosts to these cities. While Thomand Park doesn’t boast the same capacity as some of the stadiums in England it does have a prestigious reputation in world rugby.
Former Lions and England international player turned Sky pundit summed up the magic of Thomand last year on Sky sports.
“People accuse me of being biased towards Munster that I never bet against them at home. I say to those people just go to Thomand Park once, just once and tell me you don’t have admiration for that magical arena.”
The atmosphere in Thomand is legendary and is arguably Ireland’s most famous rugby stadium. It would draw a large portion of the travelling supporters. Six to eight matches were scheduled to take place in Thomand which would have brought roughly €10m to Limerick from ticket prices alone.
On top of that the travelling supporters would have had to purchase accommodation and food giving another major economic boost to the city. It is estimated that another €20 to €30m would have been brought to Limerick in spending money along with a major boost in employment.
Communications officer for Limerick city and county council Denis Tierney believes that Limerick was more than capable of hosting a tournament of such grandeur.
“Limerick was fully committed to delivering the key Host City requirements for RWC 2023. Potential fanzone sites have been identified as well as other spectator services during the tournament, which would maximise Limerick’s exposure, offering the best visitor experience. Limerick’s unique relationship with the game of rugby is world renowned and we are extremely proud of the special atmosphere that is created in the city on big rugby occasions.”
Many have criticised the government’s willingness to spend €135m on development for the tournament rather than more pressing matters such as the homeless crisis. However there is no doubt that the tournament would have been a major boost to Ireland. Along with the economic boost many jobs would be created in construction and tourism.
45 facilities would have to be either improved or constructed which would all remain in place after the tournament. Having world class facilities available to everyone here in Ireland could transform Irish sport. On top of that there would be a surge in interest of rugby.
Many children would be inspired to take up the game leading to a new generation of players who would be provided with the best platform possible to become successful in rugby.
To look at the legacy of what a tournament like this can bring you just need to look at the tournaments last two hosts. Both England and New Zealand have dominated their respective hemispheres since hosting the tournament. English clubs such as Saracens have also dominated in Europe.
Munster would have potentially received a similar boost from the tournaments legacy. Limerick clubs such as Garryowen and Shannon would have also been blessed with a new generation of players.
World Rugbys decision to not choose Ireland as the tournaments host does come as a major blow for both Limerick and the country. However if the country reacts in the right way we might be able to improve our nation for the better.
One criticism of Ireland’s bid was the lack of transport services that is available. This should be a clear indication to overhaul Ireland’s transport system so that it is on par with some of European counterparts.
If the nation makes the necessary improvements then in maybe 20 years time Limerick and Ireland will truly be able to play host to tournament like no other.