Travelling fans taking in Australia’s games against Fiji (Cardiff, September 23), Uraguay (Villa Park, September 27), England (Twickenham, October 3) and Wales (Cardiff, October 10) face the tantalising prospect not only of the best rugby on Planet Earth… but some memorable travel, too.
Ireland is incredibly easy to reach from the UK, with several ferry routes from Pembroke and Holyhead in Wales, and direct flights from London, Cardiff, Birmingham and a host of other cities thanks to British Airways, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and CityJet, among other airlines. Hop on board, and you’ll be having the craic in the Emerald Isle quicker than a Pocock poach at ruck-time.
With Ireland now back-to-back winners of the Six Nations Championship, the atmosphere will be at fever pitch by the time Joe Schmidt’s charges take to the turf. Back home, bars will be hopping, Guinness (and some mouthwatering craft beers) will be guzzled, and of course, there will be slaps on the back for anyone wearing the green and gold if Australia school England at Twickers. It really is the next best seat in the house.
Oh yes – and while you’re here, it would be rude not to take in a sight or two.
Try the Book of Kells, a jaw-dropping illuminated manuscript dating from the 9th century in Dublin’s Trinity College Library (also home to one of the world’s oldest rugby clubs, incidentally). Have a go at hurling, the fastest of all field sports, with Experience Gaelic Games, or fly higher than Israel Folau by taking the Skyline rooftop tour of Croke Park stadium!
Of course, there’s a lot more to Ireland than it’s capital city (brilliant as it is). Take a two-hour scoot up the M1 to see Titanic Belfast, or take a guided tour of the Game of Thrones locations dotted around Antrim and the Causeway Coast (much of the HBO smash was filmed in Northern Ireland).
You could dip into the heritage gems on Dublin’s doorstep – did you know the passage tomb at Newgrange is older than the Egyptian pyramids? – or chill out on the fairways of one of our legendary links golf courses. You could venture west, taking advantage of the week or so between games to immerse yourself in the Wild Atlantic Way. Or you could take an eight-day Wild Irish Rover trip with Vagabond Tours… perfect for the travelling fan with time on their hands.
On the pitch, we’ll all fight our corner. When the whistle blows, there’s nowhere better for a daytrip, a few days of fun, or a once-in-a-lifetime holiday then Ireland. Tempted?