Despite discontent from some Irish rugby fans, supporters of the national team will still be allowed to bring pints into the stadium at the upcoming Autumn Internationals this month.
Reports circulated in the aftermath of this year's Six Nations that some supporters were unhappy with the constant flow of traffic caused by fellow fans going in and out to the bar to buy drinks during Ireland's home games. Some fans even suggested that the atmosphere was diluted by this activity.
In a statement ahead of Saturday's series opener against South Africa, the IRFU confirmed that drinks would still be permitted inside the stadium this month. They did, however, say that they will message match-going Irish rugby fans via email and social media to encourage respect of their fellow patrons, and explore potential strategies going forward, such as "drink free zones".
Irish Rugby: Measures in place to improve atmosphere at Autumn Internationals
It's a massive month ahead for Irish rugby, with Andy Farrell's Ireland team set to face off with South Africa, Fiji, and Australia on three consecutive Saturdays in the Aviva Stadium.
One element of the matchday atmosphere which has been debated in recent months is the sale of alcohol at Lansdowne Road. The IRFU permit fans to bring drinks in to their seats, but any match-going fan could tell you the impact that this has on other supporters, with traffic constantly flowing in and out of the stadium proper.
Despite concerns, the IRFU have decided not to ban the consumption of alcohol inside the stadium, but rather encourage respect among fans, and research into potential strategies going forward. Irish rugby's chief commercial officer Padraig Power told the Irish Times:
It’s something we’re taking very seriously. We’re all about everybody trying to find the best experience they can. It’s a really complex issue. We took some soundings after the Six Nations from a wide variety of patrons; supporters, ten-year ticket holders, club people and it was resoundingly inconclusive.
Yes, there was a cohort saying: ‘can you please do something about people getting up and down to get drinks?’ But at the same time there’s also a strong cohort saying: ‘we want to be able to enjoy a pint’. We’re trying to find a balance. Hopefully this research will give us an insight post-November as to what actions we might take.
In every single rugby stadium in the world you can enjoy a beer in your seat, and we wouldn’t be minded to flippantly buck that trend. We want people to enjoy the day.
In addition to the messaging ahead of the game, the stadium's MC will also encourage Irish rugby fans along similar lines during the course of the three games.
Some other nations have taken action in this area over the past years. Earlier in 2022, Wales announced that they would close the bars in the Millennium Stadium at half-time of their home Six Nations games, after several unsocial incidents and pitch invasions.
Though the measures in place will hopefully improve the experience for match going Irish rugby fans, they still do not go as far as those in the GAA, where fans are not permitted to bring drinks within view of the pitch, and bars are closed at the end of half-time.
It remains to be seen what impact these measures will have on the atmosphere in the Aviva Stadium this November. Andy Farrell and his Ireland team will hope that the place is rocking when world champions South Africa arrive on Saturday evening.