An all-island bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup must include the North West region, according to Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry.

The Sligo-based Senator commented, “I welcome Ireland’s decision to bid to host a successful 2023 Rugby World Cup, and there is scope for every region in the country to be involved.

“The North West successfully hosted the World Rally Championships in 2007 & 2009 – the largest world sporting event ever hosted in Ireland. This region has the necessary sports infrastructure and accommodation to play a strong role in hosting the 2023 world cup. I would encourage those preparing the bid to tap into the expertise that was accumulated in this region during the hosting of the World Rally Championships (WRC).

“Here in the North West, we have proven our capacity to host global events with up to 250,000 spectators attending the WRC. Ironically the closing stage of the 2007 WRC at Mullaghmore, Co Sligo was watched live on TV by more people than watched the Rugby World Cup final that same year. We have world class training infrastructure at IT Sligo among other locations in the region and an array of grounds such as Donegal’s Mac Cumhail Park, Leitrim’s Pairc Mac Diarmada and Sligo’s Markievicz Park, all with capacity of 15,000 to 20,000.

“With relatively minor improvement and upgrade works, these facilities could easily cater for the group games for a variety of participating nations. The Sports Capital Programme could cover any costs for ground upgrades in the intervening years. With the cooperation of the GAA and IRFU, our facilities could play a strong role in a successful bid.

“This is an all-island opportunity that each region in the country can, and should, benefit from. Organisers should not hamper the bid’s success by limiting location to the major cities. The North West has the experience and a proven ability in hosting global events. I am calling on the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and all the organisers to ensure that this region will be allowed to contribute to the bid’s success.”