Six NationsThe Offload

Ireland won’t take a home rugby international out of Dublin - but should they?

The Offload: Antoine Dupont sees off Ireland Sevens in Vancouver; Wolfhounds claim Celtic Challenge

Given the never-ending debate on the quality of the Aviva Stadium atmosphere, a potential solution inspired by our French rugby brethren has reared its intriguing head.

In this year’s Six Nations, France are splitting their home matches between Marseille, Lille and Lyon. The World Cup showed the value, from an atmosphere and fan engagement standpoint, of having a different audience attending Ireland games.

Granted, France’s hand this year was forced by the Olympics with Paris’ Stade de France being done up for the summer Games. Regardless, given the impressive atmosphere in Marseille, could the IRFU look at doing something similar?

The only venue outside of Dublin which is both big enough and has a recent history of hosting rugby is Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. The regular, if perhaps harsh, recent dig at Cork GAA is that the SuperValu-branded arena has only sold out in recent times when Munster Rugby played friendlies against South Africa and the Crusaders. There is an appetite for live rugby in the nation’s second biggest city.


Could Ireland ever take a match down to the people’s republic?


Tap and Go: A new competition from The Irish Times is offering one lucky teenager the chance to attend Ireland vs Scotland at the Aviva Stadium to write a report #sixnationsrugby #rugby #irishrugby #avivastadium

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For Munster’s recent game against the Crusaders, the Páirc had a sell-out crowd of 40,885. That’s roughly 10,000 less than the Aviva. Given the price of tickets these days, that’s a fair old whack out of the IRFU’s matchday earnings, believed to be in the region of €3-4 million for each Six Nations game.

Bear in mind Cork GAA will charge a significant rental fee as well. The IRFU said they were in good financial health upon revealing last year’s statements, but they still recorded a deficit of close to €1 million.

France are a more cash-rich union which can better absorb the cost of renting stadiums around the country. That isn’t to say the IRFU can’t find a way if they decide it’s a worthy exercise. Perhaps a November international against the likes of Fiji or Samoa could be an option.

Is it likely to happen? No. Is it worth a conversation? Absolutely.

Ireland Sevens learn their lesson as Dupont strikes at the death

Given results in recent years, Antoine Dupont hasn’t exactly tormented Irish rugby, but he has given Mack Hansen and Ulster, among others, a few sleepless nights.

It’s time to add the Irish Sevens side to that list as the former France 15s captain scored the winning try against Ireland to knock them out at the quarter-final stage of the Vancouver Sevens.

In his first tournament outing in the seven-a-side game, taking the ball off a scrum with the clock in the red, Dupont caught Ireland napping down the blindside, coasting over in the corner untouched to set up a semi-final date with New Zealand.

The clash against Ireland was quite an ill-disciplined affair that saw three yellow cards. Ireland will be frustrated to not have won given their numerical advantage when Rayan Rebbadj and Joseph Jefferson Lee were both off the pitch early in the second half.

For the Dupont score, Ireland’s Niall Comerford was in the bin.

Ireland dropped into the fifth place playoff as a result where they beat Fiji 24-19.

In the women’s competition, Ireland beat Japan 12-7 to finish ninth. They found themselves at that stage after a defeat to New Zealand in the pool stages knocked them out of cup contention.

A spot in that playoff final was theirs after beating Britain in their penultimate game, Emily Lane, Eve Higgins and Vicki Elmes Kinlan all crossing in the win.

Wolfhounds claim the crown

As was largely expected, the Wolfhounds beat the Clovers in the Irish derby at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday to claim the Celtic Challenge title.

Knowing a victory would secure the crown, the broadly speaking Leinster/Ulster amalgamation side brushed off their Munster/Connacht rivals by a margin of 47-26 in Belfast.

In a dominant first-half display, scores from Katie Corrigan, Kelly McCormill, Hannah O’Connor and a brace from Katie Whelan saw the Wolfhounds race into a 33-7 lead. Róisín Ormond provided the only resistance from the Clovers before half-time.

After the break, the Clovers offered a fightback of sorts, adding a further 19 points but their opponents notched two more converted scores, putting an end to any hopes of a major comeback.

That fixture was the final outing for the Wolfhounds, but the Clovers have one final playoff match to fulfil next week. They take on Edinburgh at Parc Y Scarlets on Sunday, March 3rd (12.30pm).

Should the Clovers win and get a favour from Brython Thunder, who play against Wlesh rivals Gwalia Lightning, then the Clovers could leap above the Lightning and take third spot in the standings.

However, given Edinburgh comfortably beat the Clovers 35-21 in their last meeting before the playoffs, the Irish side will certainly head into that contest as significant underdogs.

Quote: #irelandweek

A number of Twitter/X users made a conscious effort to get this hashtag trending. The goal, which was successful, was to get a phrase beginning with Ireland trending higher than other hashtags associated with the far right, such as #irelandisfull.

Number: 1896

The year when Scotland last recorded four consecutive Championship victories over England, which they now have done thanks to Saturday’s result at Murrayfield.