Less than 48 hours to sell out Croke Park? Leinster will accept that – The Irish Times

You may not have noticed the recent wave of ticket buying.

If you were a Leinster rugby fan you might know this, but you sat back, thought wistfully about the capacity of Croke Park and said to yourself: “Give it a few days and I’ll buy a ticket.”

It would have been a spectacularly wrong decision. Aside from acts like Bruce Springsteen, who is playing in Croke Park later this month and can sell out tickets in less than an hour, the idea of ​​a club rugby match turning over more than 80,000 tickets in less than 48 hours was a mini phenomenon.

Leinster rugby, the club that has taken some kicking recently for its number of centralized Irish players, has flexed its muscles again, and the European Champions Cup semi-final match against Northampton will be played in front of the biggest national rugby . crowd since, well, since the last time rugby was played in Croke Park.

The club sold 36,000 tickets for the match in the 24-hour period exclusive to its 12,800 subscribers. Less than 24 hours later, the rest of the entries were gone, save for a few thousand that the organisers, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), retained for their own use. Northampton took approximately 2,000 entries.

Northampton head coach Sam Vesty on their encounter with Leinster in Croke Park

Whatever its division, Leinster has broken the mold in terms of marketing its brand. Although the club also sold out Croke Park in 2009, when they beat Munster in a European semi-final (at the time a world attendance record for club rugby), it was two Irish teams facing off. The crowd that day was pretty split between blue and red, but this time Leinster sold the majority of the 80,000+ tickets.

The numbers for this week’s game also match the number of tickets sold for Six Nations matches during the years 2007-2010, when Lansdowne Road was being rebuilt and rugby moved to Jones’s Road. However, those big numbers come from a fairly small base, which seemingly defies logic.

The results of a survey were published earlier this year. He claimed that only two per cent of Irish people play or participate in rugby, making ticket sales even more impressive.

Rugby, especially in Leinster, has proven its ability to appeal to a wide range of people and transcend gender lines.

While not many women participate in rugby, many enjoy watching it and supporting the teams. The same survey revealed that rugby is women’s favorite individual sport in Ireland, with 13 per cent selecting it as their first choice.

Camouflage and hurling were the next favorite sports for Irish women, followed by football and Gaelic football. For men, soccer was comfortably ahead at 29 percent.

What Leinster has managed to create is a brand that can successfully be different things to different people, from one day with a strong social dimension; to belong to a particular scene; for the devoted, nerdy fan who travels to watch high-level competitive games with much of his pride tied to the outcome.

All of this is happening while Leinster are going through a relatively shabby run, by their standards. They haven’t won a trophy since 2021 and haven’t won a European crown in five seasons, which they will modestly claim is an insufficient achievement.

However, they have worked tirelessly over the years (as have others, Ulster for example, evangelising the natives of Cavan by playing a pre-season friendly last October at the GAA’s Breffni Park) to attract a wider group of people, by making Friday nights into RDS family occasions and by measures such as changing players’ names after the counties they come from.

In that sweep, Leinster were no longer the Dublin team, but the flag bearers for Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.

Tadhg Furlong is from Wexford, Ciarán Frawley from Skerries and Seán O’Brien became known as Tullow Tank; while Leinster’s two joint captains, Garry Ringrose and Caelan Doris, hail from Blackrock and Mayo respectively.

They were preceded by the likes of Ferns’ Gordon D’Arcy, Bellewstown’s Shane Horgan and Barnhall’s inimitable Trevor Brennan.

While the numbers tell us that football is undoubtedly men’s favorite sport, fans have turned out in greater numbers to rugby matches in Croke Park over the years.

During the period in which Lansdowne Road was held, the Irish national football team played 13 matches in Croke Park, the last against France in a World Cup qualifier in November 2009.

They also played Brazil in a friendly match in February 2008 and in the European Championship qualifiers against Wales and Slovakia in March 2007. The highest attendance for any of the matches was 74,103 people who came to watch the match against the French.

In their first Heineken Cup match in the 1995-96 season, Leinster played Milan at the Stadio Comunale Giuriati with 1,200 people watching. The first home game was against Pontypridd in December 1995 at Lansdowne Road, with 4,000 spectators in the stadium. Now that place is too small.

Springsteen may only need an hour to sell out Croke Park, but less than 48 hours? Leinster will accept that.