Are you a rugby fan? If you are, then you’re in for a pre-Christmas treat at Croke Park. This November it’s playing host to two eagerly awaited Autumn 2008 Rugby Internationals on two consecutive weekends – Ireland v New Zealand & Ireland v Argentina.
When is it happening? Saturday November 15th and Saturday November 22nd. Dublin has a famed hospitality, which makes a weekend break a pleasure, and if you throw in the spice of a top rugby match to the mix it raises the atmosphere stakes even higher!
The talented Irish rugby team, featuring the top Munster and Leinster players, will take on the cream of world rugby talent – the famous All Blacks of New Zealand and the Pumas of Argentina.
Having suffered a humiliating early exit in the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, followed by a hugely uninspiring Six Nations Tournament in the Spring of 2008, the Irish team will be hell bent on revenge in these eagerly awaited 2008 Autumn Internationals.
Starting with the daunting prospect of facing the All Blacks of New Zealand on Saturday November 15th, then on Saturday 22nd November the Irish team goes head to head with Argentina, who cemented their position in their 2007 World Cup performance as one of the emerging nations in the Rugby World.
Ireland v New Zealand – Saturday 15th November 2008
Ireland, now coached by legendary Munster coach and Corkman, Declan Kidney, take on the mighty All Blacks at Croke Park…Kick Off is at 5.15pm. The impressive Croke Park arena welcomes the formidable opponents of New Zealand for the very first time.
The All Blacks, whilst a hugely impressive outfit, are a team that is regarded as being perennial underachievers in world rugby, with just one World Cup in 1987 to show for all of their undoubted talent over the years.
The All Blacks, which perform the motivational “Haka” dance before the kick off, are one of the stalwarts of International Rugby and are currently rated 2nd in the World Rankings behind 2007 World champions South Africa.
The current New Zealand team, coached by Graham Henry, boasts the talents of renowned kicker Dan Carter, backs Andrew Ellis, Conrad Smith and Richard Kahui, and forwards Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, and Brad Thorn, to name but a few.
Find out more about the All Blacks.
Croke Park is undoubtedly an inspirational place to play, and here’s hoping the Irish team, now captained by Leinster maestro, and arguably the best centre in World Rugby, Brian O’Driscoll, can produce a welcome return to form in this fixture, but they will have their work cut out to come out on top against the New Zealand legends.
Due to the huge demand, the game is unfortunately now sold out, so there will be a full house of 82,000 at Croke Park to witness a marvellous match. If you are not lucky enough to have a ticket for this game, you can sample the atmosphere in many of the impressive pubs and hostelries close to Croke Park in Drumcondra.
Quinn’s in Drumcondra is a great spot, as is Fagan’s on Drumcondra Road Lower. Hill 16 on Gardiner Street is the place to be on a match day and there’s always a great atmosphere Jury’s Croke Park hotel bar, just across from the impressive stadium.
Ireland v Argentina – Saturday 22nd November 2008
Ireland will play their last game of the 2008 rugby calendar against the Pumas of Argentina, in front of a home crowd at Croke Park on Saturday 22nd of November. Kick off is at 2.45pm.
Ireland had a good recent record against Argentina going up to the World Cup in September 2007. Then the Pumas put paid to Ireland’s hopes of making the last eight in fashioning a memorable win for them in Paris against Ireland.
It has to be said that Ireland’s key players like Brian O’Driscoll, David Wallace, Ronan O’Gara, Paul O’Connell, Gordon Darcy, Marcus Horan, and Neil Best did not perform to the best of their abilities on that infamous day for Irish rugby in the Parc de Princes, and the Irish team are sure to be itching for revenge in this game.
Argentina are an emerging nation in International Rugby, and despite their exile from the Six Nations or any major tournament, they have performed strongly in the last three World Cups, and indeed accounted for shocking the Ireland team in the group stages in both 1999 and 2007 tournaments with the skill and speed of their play.
Last year, the Pumas also beat France, the hosts, in the Group Pool, and their emergence was intensified reaching the semi-finals for the first time, before losing to eventual winners the Springboks, from South Africa. They eventually finished third in the tournament, after beating France again, in the play off.
As of Mid 2008, the Pumas have reached an impressive third position in the World Rugby rankings.
Captained by Felipe Contepomi, who lines out for Leinster, this will add some spice to the game as he is playing on virtual home soil. Other prominent names for the Pumas include in the back line, Ignacio Corleto, Augustin Pichot, Juan Martin Hernandez, and in the forward line the Lobbe brothers, Mario Ledesma and Patricio Albacete.
Now marshalled by joint coaches Santiago Phelan and Fabian Turnes, this will be a titanic struggle – make no mistake! Ireland striving for revenge from the disaster of 2007/08, and the Pumas seeking to consolidate their position as one of the strongest nations in World Rugby and demonstrate the quality of their pack.
Match tickets are still available for this game, but book quickly to avoid disappointment! You can book through the Irish Rugby Union website. Tickets cost 85.00 Euro plus a handling fee.
After a passionate evening supporting your team, if you and the family need some accommodation for the night check out our article on Dublin hotels near Croke Park Stadium. Alternatively you can book any of our Dublin hotels securely online.
As always, if you have any comments or questions just drop us a line. We’d really like to hear from you.