Heineken Cup final for Aviva Stadium


Hotels near the Aviva stadium in Dublin got a welcome boost today with the announcement by the ERC that the European Rugby Cup Final (Currently known as the Heineken Cup) will take place at the Dublin venue in 2013.

It will be tenth anniversary of the first and only time that the Heineken Cup final was played at the old Lansdowne Road stadium, the site of the current Aviva Stadium.

In a statement announcing the decision, ERC chief executive Derek McGrath said “The Aviva Stadium is a world-class venue which has quickly established a close affinity with the Heineken Cup having staged three matches last season”…..”Ireland has provided four Heineken Cup champions in the past six seasons and Irish rugby is steeped in the history of the tournament since it began 16 years ago.”

Unfortunately the final in 2003 was very poorly attended due to the finalists both being from France. Wouldn’t it be a great if Munster and Leinster were to battle it out in 2013?

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Aviva Stadium bids for Heineken Cup Final


Lansdowne road’s new Aviva Stadium remains in contention to host the Heineken Cup final 2011 on May 21st 2011 despite the UEFA Europa League final taking place at the stadium just three days beforehand.

Martin Murphy, Aviva stadium director has confirmed the stadium can be flipped and rebranded between sporting events within 24 hours.
It is thought that the stadium had originally considered bidding for the Heineken Cup 2010 final however it was too close to the scheduled completion of construction.

The ERC won’t be making a decision on what venue will host the 2011 final until the week of this year’s decider in Paris. The 16th Heineken Cup season begins on the second weekend of October, and climaxes with the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals on the weekend of May 20th-22nd.

The ERC announced yesterday that the pool stages will again be played in three back-to-back blocks in October, December and January.

7 Ireland players in Lions Team


The Lions team for Saturday’s game against South Africa in Pretoria has been named with 7 players from Ireland included. Paul O’Connell will captain the team but is only one of 2 Munster players on the team however Ronan O’Gara has been named among the replacements

Team:
R Kearney, T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, J Roberts, L Fitzgerald, S Jones, M Phillips, G Jenkins, M Rees, A Jones, S Shaw, P O’Connell, T Croft, D Wallace, J Heaslip.

Substitutes:
R Ford, A Sheridan, A-W Jones, M Williams, H Ellis, R O’Gara, S Williams.

O’Gara to captain British & Irish Lions


Ireland flyhalf and twice Heineken Cup winning number 10, Ronan O’Gara, will captain The Lions against the Emerging Springboks in tomorrow night’s clash  at Newlands.

O’Gara will be the fifth different, and fourth Irish, skipper on the tour of South Africa.
Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Phil Vickery and Donncha O’Callaghan all having had the honour so far.

Munster Rugby‘s O’Gara leads a side that contains six players who were involved the first Test against world champions South Africa last Saturday where they lost 26-21.

The side includes props Tim Payne and Munster’s John Hayes, who were only recently summoned to join the tour party.

Tomorrow’s game will be the Lions’ final midweek fixture of their 10-match tour and comes four days before the second Test that they must win to have any chance of claiming the series. That game takes place in the altitude of Pretoria on Saturday at 3pm local time (1pm Irish time)

Munster Rugby – The Treble is on!


Following the historic success of Ireland in the 6 nations last weekend, the vision in Munster Rugby circles has switched to dreams of a Treble for so many of the Munster players.

This is not to disrespect in any way whatsoever the achievement of Ireland and the contribution of non-Munster players. In fact it was a source of great pride to see the national team play as one again and dispelling talk of internal cliques.

The reality is, however, that for 11 Munster players who played for Ireland during the 2009 6 nations championship there is an opportunity to complete an unprecedented treble this year.
1. The Grand-Slam has already been done with Ireland
2. They are leading the Magners League
3. They have qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup and are currently 7-4 favourites to retain it with PaddyPower

Retaining the Heineken Cup will not be easy and they have some difficult games ahead of them but they  never had it easy either in 2006 or 2008 when they emerged victorious. Now that the stereotype of the Irish good loser has been blown away for ever, the sky is the limit!

Declan Kidney masterminds historic Ireland victory over France


Ireland beat France by 30 points to 21 in Croke Park on the opening day of the Six Nations.

Superb performances from Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara and man of the match, Jamie Heaslip, ended a run of 7 losses to France and in the process saw Ireland score 3 tries against French opposition for the first time in 100 years.

In a scene reminiscant of his early career, a try by O’Driscoll was particularly pleasing with the Ireland skipper showing the acceleration and finishing ability that seemed to be on the wane in recent seasons.

Soccer in Thomond park?, the home of Munster Rugby


Thomond Park, the home of Munster rugby, could play host to a high profile soccer competition in summer 2009.

The newley revamped venue in Limerick was recently approved by UEFA for use as a soccer venue and Munster Rugby bosses are already believed to be in negotiation with clubs from the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain with a view to hosting a tournament next summer.

Sources close to the negotiations have said that they hope to have details finalised before the New Year.