The oldest international rugby venue in the world, Lansdowne Road, and its brand new 51,700 all-seater Aviva Stadium opened its doors to the world on Saturday 31 July 2010. Here is my virtual tour as I sat in awe of this wonderful new stadium.
One wonders what historic moments in rugby and football (soccer) will emerge over the next 50 years (although difficult to imagine, if you’re over 50!). What magical moments of wizardry and wonderful moments of sportsmanship will emerge?
Leinster v Ulster was the first (16 Dec 1876) and last (31 Dec 2006) game of rugby played at the old Lansdowne Road stadium. The first international match was played way back in Victorian times in 1878 (when Ireland was under British rule). When the Republic of Ireland was eventually established, both the Republic and the North Of Ireland still united, every year, to wear the green shirt and take on the world’s best rugby teams. Football does not do this, except once, in 1973 a United Ireland team* took on the World champions, Brazil. The venue? Lansdowne Road. For 128 years Lansdowne Road was an international venue, much loved by anyone who visited. It then closed its doors for a moment (three and a half years in the greater scheme of things) and moved its rugby and football events to the hidden jewel in Ireland’s crown, the 82,500 Croke Park, HQ of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association)*.
What historic events and wonderful sportsmanship moments will emerge in this, the newest stadium in the oldest venue? Perhaps it is the oldest international sports venue in the world – can someone enlighten me?
* See the full stories of the 1973 moment when Ireland united in football in Lansdowne Road and also the 2007 moment when ‘God saved Croke Park’ in the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship collection of published short stories.