Trains, planes and automobiles: Irish fans on the road to Cardiff

Accommodation prices jump to €1,600 as Aer Lingus lays on extra charters

We’re 99% sure these are Ireland fans. Photograph: David Davies/PA

We’re 99% sure these are Ireland fans. Photograph: David Davies/PA

 

Travel ain’t cheap, tickets are dear and accommodation is nauseatingly expensive – but that hasn’t halted Irish rugby fans’ intrepid hunt for World Cup quarter-final tickets.

Joe Schmidt’s men take on Argentina in the Millennium Stadium this weekend in one of the most anticipated Irish sporting encounters for years, but interested onlookers face the prospect of forking out almost €350 for an elusive one-way ticket to Cardiff on Sunday morning.

As expected, demand for pre-match air fares has been nothing short of extraordinary, with Aer Lingus alone laying on 1,000 extra seats ahead of the 1pm kick-off (don’t forget about the early start, or viewers at home will be left watching Scotland getting a probable walloping off the Wallabies through tear-strewn eyes instead).

Rugby enthusiasts with an impulsive streak can secure a slightly more economical flight to the Welsh capital on Saturday with Ryanair or Aer Lingus, the latter for as little as €61.99. Tickets also remain available for the stadium itself, with the ‘cheapest’ category starting at £215 (€292) on the official World Cup website.

Then again, you might as well save yourself the bother – and possibly a few quid– by renting your own private jet for Sunday’s game given that hotel prices in Cardiff on Saturday start at an eye-watering €1,600 for anywhere that’s not already sold out, according to latest listings on Booking. com.

As of Friday evening, charter group Club Travel had just one single return package to Cardiff left, which included a Category C match ticket, for €779, and similar outlets like Joe Walsh Tours, Killester Travel and Celtic Horizons were all completely sold out.

Whereas more defeatist followers may be content to throw in the towel at this stage, Irish sports fans are renowned for their resourcefulness when it comes to following their teams, and there’s a veritable abundance of options still open to those who don’t mind doing it the hard way.

Most obviously, late night/early morning sailings depart for Holyhead and Fishguard with Stenaline and Irish Ferries on the eve of the game.

Some may also elect to fly to London on Sunday for a reasonable enough price, before commencing a mad scramble to Paddington Station and the ensuing two-and-a-half hour train journey to Cardiff to arrive just before kick-off (train tickets are still available for pre-booking, as far as we can tell).

Of course, the sensible advice would always be to secure tickets, travel and accommodation well in advance so there’s no last-minute panic.

But then again, where’s the fun in that?

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