Irish final a mixed blessing
DUBLIN’S HOSTING of the Heineken and Amlin rugby cup finals next May might prove conflicting for our Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar.
As minister for sport, Varadkar will obviously be hoping for Irish success, particularly for his native Leinster. But as minister for tourism, he’d probably prefer British or French teams to come here for the finals weekend, with hordes of fans willing to spend their hard-earned cash.
“I’ve seen Leinster win the last two Heineken Cups, which is brilliant,” the minister told me yesterday. “It’s hard to see a three in a row, though of course I’d love to see it happen.
“From a tourism point of view, what probably would be best would be Ulster against an English team. Ulster [fans] mainly come from the North and they bring sterling into the Irish economy and [supporters of] English teams are better at travelling than French teams.
“I’m told it’s sold out so it’s probably academic but I’d like to see a good crowd for the Amlin.”
Varadkar said plans for the weekend included building a festival of rugby around the hosting of the finals of both competitions.
The Amlin final will be played at the RDS on May 17th while the “Heino” takes centre stage at the Aviva the following day.
“It’s going to be great. As part of the Gathering, there’s going to be a festival of rugby around that. Rugby clubs around the country are being encouraged to bring in foreign teams and so on.”