The uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its potentially negative impact on Ireland may be to blame for today's dashed hopes of Ireland hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023, according to Seán Kelly MEP.

"Unfortunately, the prospect of an all-island bid for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 was not endorsed by World Rugby today, meaning hopes are lowered for Ireland's bid. Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) this morning announced it has unanimously backed South Africa's bid to host the tournament, making it highly unlikely that Ireland will succeed.

"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. 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. Brexit would have been a factor in the decision-making process for such a large-scale tournament," said Mr Kelly, the Leader of the Fine Gael Delegation in the European Parliament.

World Rugby selected South Africa as its recommended Rugby World Cup 2023 host with a score of 78.9 percent, after appraising three bids. France placed second with a score of 75.8 pc, with Ireland finishing in third place with 72.2pc.

"Ireland's bid, based on an all-island proposal, has a huge amount of potential and the country would make a wonderful location for the tournament. No fans would be disappointed with what Ireland has to offer.

"Ireland submitted an excellent bid and the IRFU and those who supported it can be proud of their hard work. However, if Ireland is not successful on this occasion, there may be an opportunity to bid for the tournament again in future. In a future, post-Brexit scenario, a sole Republic of Ireland bid may be a more viable option. However, until there is more clarity on the ramifications of Brexit, we cannot predict what the situation will be," the Ireland South MEP added.

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