The race to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is in the final stretch with Ireland’s bid submission being handed into World Rugby headquarters in Dublin on Thursday.
The honour of handing in the bid has fallen to a rugby mad 11-year-old from Templepatrick.
Alex Place will deliver the submission to the World Rugby offices at Pembroke Avenue, Dublin, accompanied by among others, Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll.
Three countries are in the running to host one of the biggest events in global sport, South Africa, France and Ireland.
November 15 is D-Day for the three bidding Nations as that is when they will learn the fate of their submissions.
Bids have to be formally submitted by tomorrow then the three countries will present to the World Rugby Council in September and then it will depend on who gets the most votes in November.
There are 37 votes to be cast by the World Rugby Council - 19 being the magic number to get one of the three Nations over the line.
Ireland will host the Womwn’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin and Belfast in August - and that could also be crucial in swinging votes their way.
Ulster season ticket-holder, Alex, was selected from almost 200 entries from across Ireland to become the IRFU’s 2023 ‘Bid Kid’, after a stand-out entry which summed up his love of the sport in just seven words – ‘Life is simple, eat, sleep, play rugby!’
Alex, who attends Templepatrick Primary, has played with Academy Rugby Club since he was four, and will be joining his team directly after his starring role submitting Ireland’s 2023 bid when Academy travel to Florence to play against Italian club teams, on Friday.
Ireland and UIster player, Andrew Trimble, dropped in to Alex to give him the good news, where he met with Alex’s mum and dad, Leanne and Colin, and Alex’s little sister Zoe.
The family will join Alex as he travels to Dublin tomorrow.
Alex’s mum, Leanne said: “When we spotted the IRFU were looking for a kid to hand over Ireland’s bid for Rugby World Cup 2023, we just thought ‘Alex would be perfect for that’, so we took a picture with all the jerseys and balls he has collected over the years and told the IRFU about Alex’s mantra - Life is simple, eat, sleep, play rugby.
“I am delighted Alex was selected, as he is obsessed with rugby and I know that this will be a very special day for him.
“We are really proud that Alex gets to do something so important for the game he loves.”
Alex said: “I was so shocked to see Andrew at my home and for a moment I didn’t really know what was happening. When he told me that I had been selected as the bid kid I was so happy.
“I just love rugby and hopefully I get selected for Ireland again and again, as I really want to play for Ulster and Ireland when I grow up.
“I can’t wait to go to Dublin to hand over Ireland’s bid for the Rugby World Cup, I am just so happy.”