The IRFU has formally announced its intention to submit an all-Ireland bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
As well as the traditional rugby stadiums such as the Aviva in Dublin, the Kingspan at Ravenhill in Belfast and Thomond Park in Limerick, a 2023 World Cup in Ireland would also hope to utilise a number of GAA venues, including the 82,300 capacity Croke Park in Dublin.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, both of whom pledged their support for the tournament bid. The IRFU says the total cost of putting together the bid will be €1.5m.
Speaking at the event, which took place at a function in The Royal School, Armagh, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "I am delighted to formally announce the Government's support, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive, to formally back the IRFU's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
"Ireland will put together a winning bid that will be impossible to resist. We have the fans, the stadiums, and the accessibility to make it a World Cup to remember.
"Irish people love our sport. We are passionate about sport and we celebrate it. We want to share the Irish sporting experience with the world by inviting the world to Ireland. I'm absolutely confident that Ireland will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The Government will provide its full support to make it happen."
"We want to share the Irish sporting experience with the world by inviting the world to Ireland." Enda Kenny
The bid process will involve the development of a detailed programme, covering match schedules and venues, accommodation, international access, internal transport, communications infrastructure and community involvement.
The GAA has previously agreed that it would make its stadia available for the staging of matches and it will now be up to the bid team to put together a specific match schedule in line with the requirements of World Rugby (formerly the IRB).
Paraic Duffy told RTÉ Sport that the GAA were "supporting the bid in any way we can" and that he expected "probably six or seven" Association grounds to be involved, highlighting the to soon-to-be redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast and Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, along with Croke Park, as potential venues.
The Director General also welcomed the prospect of the final being played at GAA headquarters.
"It would be great. It would be a recognition of what a fine stadium Croke Park is," he said. "The expectation is that if the bid is successful, the final, and probably the two semi-finals would be played at Croke Park.
"We've hosted major rugby internationals in the past, that memorable Heineken cup game [2009 semi-final] between Munster and Leinster, and a Rugby World Cup final would be something to be savoured in Croke Park."
Ireland has just formerly confirmed its bid to host 2023 rugby World Cup. Think it would be a great host nation. Right size, right passion— owenslotTheTimes (@owenslot) December 5, 2014
The decision to appoint a host union for a Rugby World Cup is taken by World Rugby, the international governing body for rugby, following a very detailed process which culminates in a meeting of all member Unions at which the final decision is made. It is expected the decision on Rugby World Cup 2023 will be taken in mid 2017.
The RWC is now broadcast in over 200 countries and the audience has grown exponentially since the first World Cup in 1987 drew a world television audience of 230 million.
The 2007 tournament, staged in France, had a cumulative world television audience of 4.2 billion while RWC 2011, staged in New Zealand, attracted 3.94 billion, despite featuring early morning kick-offs for viewers in Europe.
Next year's tournament takes place in England and Wales with Japan hosting its first Rugby World Cup in 2019.
This morning, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson welcomed the announcement, saying Ireland was home to "one of the power houses of world rugby". He said any successful hosting of the Rugby World Cup would be a tremendous achievement.
"This bid shows the ambition of the Northern Ireland Executive and our determination to bring world class international sporting events to Northern Ireland."
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the bid ould be "robust and compelling" and that the right infratructure would be put in place.
"I thank the IRFU and GAA for their collaboration and foresight. This bid shows Ireland has the appetite to host an international sporting event on a scale never seen before in our history, and we are determined to make it a winning bid."