Many of the 2023 venues, though, would be borrowed from Ireland’s traditional sport, GAA. For many years, there was a rigid separation between the traditional Gaelic sport and the sports their association labelled as ‘foreign’, including rugby and soccer, so much so that players could be removed from the GAA for so much as kicking a soccer ball. That particular taboo was broken for good when the Aviva Stadium was redeveloped in 2007, and Ireland played France in the previously sacrosanct, GAA-only ground Croke Park. Croke Park is amongst the stadiums put forward for the 2023 bid, and with a full-house capacity of 82,300, the Dublin venue remains the third biggest stadium in Europe. But what of the real rugby stadia? Here, we outline Ireland’s best.
Home of Leinster, who represent the Eastern of Ireland’s four provinces in the joint Irish, Welsh, Italian and Scottish professional club rugby league, the Pro12, the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in the capital city is an iconic rugby venue. Located in an ornate compound that also hosts major conferences such as the Dublin Horse Show, and Ireland’s Comicon, the Arena location – where the rugby takes place – holds a frequently sold out 18,500, with plans in place for substantial redevelopment in the near future. Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson and U2 have all played here in the past. However, for locals, since their relocation to this spot in 2005, it’s very much been the home of the ‘Leinster roar’, particularly beloved by the faithful as the home ground during all three of their European Cup title wins, achieved in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The RDS Arena, Dublin 4, Ireland, +353 1 668 0866