As Theresa May threw her support behind Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, the French revealed their ace in the pack in the form of New Zealand great Jonah Lomu’s two sons. But once the dust settles on the PR stunts, there’s only one place that really deserves to host the tournament.
Off the back of a hugely successful Women’s Rugby World Cup this summer and their first ever victory over the All Blacks last year, Ireland is asserting itself as a rugby nation. The Emerald Isle offer four competitive professional sides that, at a time of European divide, unites a country that has been split by conflict and war in the past.
Players do not turn out for Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, but for Ireland, and if this doesn’t send out the right message about the global event, what does?
Then there was the support shown from leading political figures. British Prime Minister Ms May’s support for the Irish campaign was revealed in London at the final chance for Ireland and France, along with South Africa, to press their claims as tournament hosts. Ireland’s Taoseach Leo Varadkar confirmed the United Kingdom’s support, with Ms May sending a letter to the Rugby World Cup organisation to announce her backing.
“The main reason I’m speaking to Theresa May is around Brexit and also restoring the institutions in the north,” said Mr Varadkar, who was due to meet Ms May at Downing Street.
“However, she has written to World Rugby, supporting our bid, and assuring them that the United Kingdom government is behind it too. And I’m very grateful for the fact that she’s done that.
“I’m really delighted to be here in person. I wouldn’t have missed today for anything.”
That last line from Mr Varadkar is important, as while he was in attendance, French President Emmanuel Macron distanced himself from his nation’s bid, and declined to provide and video message of support as he had previously pledged to do so.
In response, the French did what…