In 1872 a young Irish athlete called Henry Wallace Doveton Dunlop realized his dream: to build Dublin a proper, dedicated sports venue. Landsdowne Road Stadium, only about a mile from St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin, is this venue.
In 1876 it hosted its first rugby match and in 1878 it held its first international rugby game. By the turn of the 21st century, Landsdowne Road was the oldest sporting stadium in Europe. It’s inevitable then that it’s had an update.
Now called Aviva Stadium with covered seating for 50,000, the new state-of-the-art stadium opened in 2010. You can take a tour, see where the players prepare for games, where the coaches sit to plan their tactics, or you can just go and see a game in action. Opt for soccer or rugby and during February and March this year the annual Six Nations Rugby Union Tournament will be fought out with all the national fervor, barracking and scarf waving that ensues.
Ireland will play against France, Italy, England, Scotland and Wales (yes, these last three are separate nations, though combined as the United Kingdom except where rugby rivalry comes into play), all vying for the Six Nations trophy.
On February 5th at Aviva Stadium, Ireland will play Wales, on February 25th Ireland will play Italy, and on March 10th they will play Scotland, also at Aviva. Ireland’s other two matches are in England and France.
There is no final game – the winner is decided on points from the round-robin fixture of matches. The rivalry is fierce. The fans are devoted. This is a great way to get to know a nation: watching it worship its national sports heroes. Go to Aviva Stadium and see how Ireland plays!