RDS Arena long-term home of Leinster Rugby


RDS Arena remains home of Leinster Rugby Image: Leinster Rugby

The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and Leinster Rugby confirmed a new 25-year agreement on October 25th that will see the RDS Main Arena in Dublin, Ireland, continue to be the home of Leinster Rugby.

‘Leinster Rugby’ stated that the first Leinster Rugby game to be played at the iconic Ballsbridge Stadium was in September 2005 when Leinster beat Cardiff Rugby (Welsh rugby union team, UK) 34-15.

The Royal Dublin Society is an Irish philanthropic organization and members club which was founded as the ‘Dublin Society’ on June 25th, 1731 with the aim to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. The RDS is synonymous with its 160,000 m² campus in Ballsbridge, Dublin, Ireland.

Leinster Rugby is one of the four professional provincial rugby union teams from the island of Ireland and the most successful Irish team domestically. They compete in the United Rugby Championship and the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The 18,500-capacity RDS Main Arena is a multipurpose sports stadium owned by the Royal Dublin Society and located in the Dublin suburb of Ballsbridge, Ireland. The arena was developed to host equestrian events, primarily the annual Dublin Horse Show, which was first held there in 1881. The site had been acquired in 1879 by the Royal Dublin Society. It serves as the home ground of Leinster Rugby.

‘Leinster Rugby’ further stated that it wasn’t until two years later that the first lease was signed, and the venue became Leinster’s permanent home venue. The team duly celebrated the partnership and their new home with a 23-8 win against Edinburgh Rugby (professional rugby union team from Scotland, constituent country of United Kingdom) in September 2007.

The new agreement, announced on October 25th, provides clarity and secures the RDS Main Arena as the home for the current and future Leinster Rugby fans, as well as the team and the Leinster Rugby Branch.

Maintained Mick Dawson, Leinster Rugby former head honcho, “The decision to move to the RDS Main Arena in 2007 is one of the best decisions Leinster Rugby ever made. We had a brilliant home down in Donnybrook but for us to grow as a club, as an organization, we needed a bigger ground and better facilities and that is what we got with the RDS Main Arena. It’s not just about the ground though, as the RDS, as an organization, have been a brilliant partner over the last 15 years and I am delighted that we have agreed to new terms that provides clarity and certainty for Leinster Rugby supporters and for the club for the years ahead.”

Added Dawson, “It’s a hugely exciting time on and off the pitch, and I am confident that in early 2023, we will be able to provide a further update, together with the RDS, on the next stage of our plans for the RDS Arena. Today is about securing the future, first and foremost, and I am very grateful to Geraldine Ruane (Chief Executive Officer of RDS), and the RDS Executive, for their help in getting this finalized.”

Speaking about the new partnership, Ruane said, “Our relationship with Leinster Rugby really is a true partnership which has grown from strength to strength over the last 15 years and it is great that today (October 25th) we are announcing a further deepening of our partnership for the next 25 years. Leinster Rugby fans have truly embraced the RDS as their home and we are always looking at ways to enhance the fans’ experience and the new fan zone, The Laighin Den, is another great example of our partnership. I would like to thank Mick Dawson, and all the team in Leinster Rugby who have helped to make this agreement happen and I would also like to wish Mick all the very best on his retirement as CEO of Leinster Rugby. He leaves with an outstanding legacy.”

Since 2007, the RDS Arena has hosted the majority of Leinster Rugby’s home games in domestic competitions, in addition to the Heineken Champions Cup (European Rugby Champions Cup), as well as hosting the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Senior Cup Final each year.

It has hosted a number of showpiece finals with Leinster Rugby winning the PRO14 Final in 2021 against Munster Rugby (rugby team from Ireland), the PRO12 Final against Glasgow (Scotland) in 2014 and the PRO12 and Challenge Cup Finals in 2013.

The RDS Arena has also hosted high-profile concerts and events, such as the FAI Cup Finals (knockout association football competition contested annually by teams from the Republic of Ireland), the Special Olympics and, of course, the annual Dublin Horse Show.

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