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News: How Popular Rugby is Among the Irish

Rugby and Ireland — Close Friends or Distant Relatives

27.02.2024 - Is rugby as popular as soccer in Ireland? What do the latest statistics say about this topic? Join us, and let's find out together.

(Source – Freepik)

In the last couple of years, rugby has become more popular in Ireland. Once considered an elitist sport, it has now become mainstream, gaining more followers and fans across the country. According to the 2022 survey conducted by Statista, we can see that among children, over a quarter of boys played rugby at a community sports club or any other similar setting in primary school. As for girls who were engaged in club rugby, the number is about 16%. 

Based on these statistics, it is clear that rugby surely is not on the last row of Irish favourite sports. Such popularity is also seen among adults who like to follow the top national and international rugby matches such as the Rugby World Cup, United Rugby Championship and Six Nations. Moreover, some of them also enjoy watching and betting on their favourite rugby competitions at online bookies and casinos with 10 euro deposit or less to add to the fun. 

We will take a look at the current situation with rugby in Ireland and explore the best teams in the country. So, just make yourself comfortable and join us on our journey. 

Rugby Today – Some Stats and Data

In July 2023, Energia, the official energy partner and sponsor of the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union), conducted a survey among Irish people to determine the popularity of rugby in Ireland. The number of participants in this survey was 1,000. 

The results of their survey showed that rugby, at the moment, is the number one sport in the country, with 31% of respondents stating it as their favourite sport. The next four popular sports after rugby were soccer (27%), Gaelic football (23%), and camogie/hurling (19%). 

In addition, almost 74% of the people surveyed believed that Ireland would have success in the 2023 Rugby World Cup and at least reach the semi-finals. Among them, only 41% claimed that Ireland would surely win, while 66% just said they would be watching. 

The Rugby World Cup was held in 2023 between September 8 and October 28 in France. In this competition, Ireland finished at the top of Pool B following wins over Tonga, Romania, Scotland and South Africa. Unfortunately, Ireland lost the game to New Zealand with a score of 24-28, halting their progress in the quarter-finals. So, they couldn't make it to the semi-finals.

The Ireland National Team of Rugby — A Brief Overview 

(Source – Freepik)

Aontas Rugbaí, or Rugby Union, is the national rugby sports team of the island of Ireland, organized on an all-Ireland basis. It includes teams and players from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and works under the governance of the Irish Rugby Football Union. The IRFU was founded in 1879, making it the third oldest rugby union worldwide, after the England National Rugby Union Team (RFU) and the Rugby Union of Scotland (SRU).

Ireland has won the Six Nations Championship, along with its predecessor matches, fifteen times, including 4 Grand Slams, with the Grand Slam in 2023 being the most recent one. Due to this, the Ireland national team is currently in third place in the World Rugby Rankings. Moreover, Ireland has participated in every Rugby World Cup of men, even though they have never managed to advance beyond the quarter-final.

As for provision rugby in the country, Ireland is home to four professional teams organized by the four provincial unions that are affiliated with the IRFU. These cover Ulster, Leinster, Connacht, and Munster. These teams mainly compete in the European Rugby Champions Cup, the EPCR Challenge Cup and the United Rugby Championship. 

Among the provincial teams, Leinster has been the most successful historically, while Munster is the reigning champion of the United Rugby Championship in 2022-2023. In addition, the provincial unions have had massive success in European competition, bringing back one Challenge Cup win and seven European Rugby Champions Cup. 

As for the women's rugby teams, the Women’s Union usually participates in various competitions such as WXV, the Women's Rugby World Cup and the Women's Six Nations. The provincial teams, on the other hand, compete mainly in inter-provincial championships as well as take part in the cross-border competition known as the Celtic Challenge with teams from Wales and Scotland.