New Lansdowne AVIVA’s Incapacity. Philip Browne is either disingenuous or self-deluded.

The Irish Times is not noted for its comic writings or quotes but on Saturday 15th May it provided a highlight from of all people Philip Browne of the Irish Rugby Football Union whose aul fella was a professor in Trinity College Medical School.

The heading read AVIVA capacity ‘bang on’ – Browne.

“In terms of the capacity, it is absolutely bang on for us in rugby. It absolutely is” Browne insisted. “We have struggled at times to fill Croke Park. The clubs have taken the brunt of that. I can say that without any hesitation this is the financial engine that will drive rugby and soccer for the next 40 years. We have no qualms that this facility will do that for us”

New Lansdowne Road stadium capacity 51,000 some perched in outer space.

Browne’s comments, if he is not being purposely disingenuous, display a staggering lack of ambition and a conservatism that should be incompatible with an ambitious growing organisation. Irish Rugby since Ulster won the Heineken Cup in 1999 has been a national antidepressant. The whole country salutes the men in Green for triple crowns and the Grand Slam in 2009.

Munster odyssey in nine Heineken soaked years and Leinster and Rocky Elsom in 2009. It has been fantastic.

I will pick a few programmes from Croke Park off the shelf and list the attendances.

Feb 2010 Ireland v Italy 77,678
March 2010 Ireland v Wales 81,340
March 2010 Ireland v Scotland 80,330
Feb 2009 Ireland v England 81,163
Feb 2009 Ireland v France 82,000
November 2009 Ireland v South Africa 74,950 November 2009 Ireland v Australia 69,688 November 2008 Ireland v New Zealand 81,214 November 2008 Ireland v Argentina 68,352 February 2008 Ireland v Italy 75,387
2009 Leinster v Munster Full house in Heineken Cup

All the other figures are similar

Mr Browne is saying in effect that the 18,352 extra spectators for the Argentina match at Croke Park over Aviva is of little real consequence.

That is 36.6% more and most businesses would only love that level of success. Where does that leave the 31,000 left outsides for England, Wales, New Zealand and France?


By his actions in giving his handout to the GAA for the construction of Croke park when the issue of opening the ground for Rugby and Soccer was on the Congress Agenda, that economic genius Bertie Ahern has left Dublin with an absurd stadium legacy – a Lansdowne Road (Aviva) inadequate for most rugby games and some of the biggest soccer games and a Croke Park too big for many of the GAA games.

We should have had a Lansdowne Road with a 35,00 to 40,000 capacity with a pitch big enough for Gaelic Football and Croke Park as the amphitheatre of the greatest national dreams. Truly a nation wince again!

Could Browne tell us how did the clubs suffer when the IRFU did not fill Croke Park?

Might it be safe to say that the IRFU revenues over ten years would be higher if Croke Park is used appropriately? Is Browne merely justifying the naming rights and commercial deals in the new Lansdowne Road taking precedence over the Unions responsibility to promote the game.

The game is growing as can be seen at the RDS whenever Leinster play. At half time rugby minis put on a show. Just look at from where they hale.

This season alone, minis from Naas, Edenderry, Birr, Seapoint, Patrician College Finglas, St Vincents Navan Road, Dundalk, Clondalkin etc have turned up. Don’t tell me that they will see their heroes in New Lansdowne Road!

Full marks to Mick Dawson in Leinster Rugby – Resit for Philip Browne of IRFU!