“Ballroom dancing is a contact sport. Rugby is a collision sport." Heyneke Meyer, former Springboks coach
Heyneke Meyer, former Springboks coach, hit the nail on the head. Rugby is a pitched battle with a ball: its players are gladiators, its fans the baying crowds.
Dublin knows a thing or two about all three. This is the city to which Leinster have brought three Heineken Cups in four years, after all. It hosted the 2013 H-Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup Finals. It’s also home to the colosseum that is the spanking new Aviva Stadium.
On match day, the city is buzzing. Be it the Six Nations, Celtic League or Heineken Cup matches, travelling fans love Dublin, and Dublin loves them. Get stuck in.
Start at the beginning – Trinity College Dublin. This Dublin landmark is home to the famous Book of Kells, but more importantly, one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world. 31 years after Webb Ellis invented the game in 1823, Dublin University Football Club was founded.
For a proper reccie, take a Dublin City Bus Tour. The hop-on/hop-off tours are a cracking chance to get your bearings, with stops ranging from the prop forwards at Dublin Zoo to the city’s liquid legacy at the Guinness Storehouse and Old Jameson Distillery. Tickets last for 48 hours, meaning you can pick up where you left off the following day…
If buses aren’t your bag, you can tour the city by bike, Segway or wearing a horned helmet in the back of a yellow amphibious vehicle on the Viking Splash Tour… whatever, we’ve got you covered.
Leinster rugby players aren’t just making inroads into the opposition. A select few have also been tackling Dublin’s restaurant scene – including Jamie Heaslip, who is a co-owner of Bear, a sizzlingly hip steakhouse on South William Street.
Bear specialises in funky and flavoursome cuts like flank and rump, fittingly sourced from Leinster Charolais herds. And it works: this was one of the joints where Warren Gatland fattened up his 2013 Lions party before their victorious tour of Australia.
Meanwhile, a quick rolling maul across the Creative Quarter takes you to The Exchequer, a gastro-pub co-owned by Leinster and Irish legend Gordon D’Arcy. A cracking special here pitches fish n’ chips and a pint at €15... and the cocktails are worth lining out for too.
The match may be over, but the night has only begun. Start with a post-match pint at Kiely’s of Donnybrook – the spiritual home of Leinster Rugby is a short walk from the club’s official store, and somewhere you’re guaranteed to see a player or two after a weekend game…
Another option is Clontarf. A 7-minute sprint by Dart from the city centre, this slick suburb is the birthplace of Brian O’Driscoll, Cian Healy and… erm, Bram Stoker. Sink your fangs the 70s retro vibe of Gilbert & Wright (dig the shag-pile carpets, baby) before getting your A-game on and training back to town to hit the tiles at Twisted Pepper or Everleigh Gardens.
After that, Mr Meyer, you’ll be ready for the ballroom dancing…