A beginners guide to the Six Nations
It's always great to visit a city during a top event to really add an extra element to your trip. Every year in winter Dublin is not only enlivened by St Patrick's Day but also by the Six Nations rugby tournament.
What is the Six Nations?
The Six Nations is an annual rugby competition played between the national teams of Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, France, and Italy The games are played over five weekends in February and March with each team playing each other once in a league format. Each nation will have either two or three home games in their capital city. Fixtures for 2018 and 2019 can be found here:
What makes the Six Nations such a good competition?
The Six Nations is an incredibly competitive competition. Every year at least four teams have a realistic chance of winning the tournament, In the past few years England have been dominant but in the preceding years Ireland and Wales have enjoyed their time at the top. Local rivalries add a competitive element to all the games - generally, beating England can lighten up even the most dismal of campaigns. The games are intense affairs, full of passion and legalised violence. It doesn't take a full understanding of the game - let's face it those people are in the minority - to enjoy the contests.
How do I watch a game?
On television in a bar probably. Although at least two or three games will be played in Dublin's 51,700-seater Aviva Stadium in Ballsbridge, it is very difficult to get tickets. Tickets are expensive - between €30.00 (limited) and €120.00 (platinum) - and sell out quickly with the tickets then multiplying in value to eye watering amounts on resale sites like Stubhub. Your best chance is to get a ticket for an Italy game. Italy are traditionally the whipping boys and offer less of a competitive game so tickets sell slower and for marginally cheaper. On a moral level though, it's a nice thing to leave the limited number of tickets to the Irish rugby fans who will enjoy them most.
How will this affect a trip to Dublin?
It will make it better! For every home game a horde of away supporters will swamp the city and create a fun atmosphere inside the pubs, especially around Temple Bar. There is no tension compared to what a similar football (soccer) tournament would create and violence is almost non-existent. When there isn't a home game the pubs will also fill to the rafters with fans cheering on the Ireland games. Everyone puts on their ABE (Anyone But England) hats and supports anyone playing the men from across the Irish Sea. Listening to England being beaten sounds very similar to an actual Ireland game being watched. It's all done with a touch of humour and little malice.
If you have no interest in the rugby it might best to check the dates and avoid these weekends to not be stung much increased accommodation rates. This is especially the case if a game in Dublin coincides with St Patrick's Day or a few days either side.