By the banks of the River Dodder, the mighty Aviva Stadium rises up from the surrounding red brick terraces of Beggars Bush. This is the home of Irish rugby.

Rugby has been played here at Lansdowne Road since 1872 when Henry Dunlop and the Irish Champion Athletics Club first laid out sports grounds. Ireland’s first international fixture against England took place here in 1878, making it the world’s oldest rugby union test venue.

Today, the Aviva Stadium is home to the Irish Rugby Football Union – the body that manages rugby union in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ross Byrne of Leinster kicks a penalty during the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at Aviva Stadium

Almost 200,000 people across the country are registered rugby players. This figure includes players at every level – from local clubs and school teams, right up to inter-county competitors and national teams.

Club rugby in Dublin

Hundreds of small clubs play rugby across Ireland – and they’re all welcoming of new members. These teams cater to local men and women who love the game, children who aspire to play internationally and players with disabilities. If you want to join a Dublin rugby club, you’ll find one near you on this handy map.

Dublin has around 30 clubs to choose from and they all compete in the Leinster Rugby competition.

You’ll notice that there’s a cluster of clubs around south Dublin. Rugby is particularly popular in this privileged area of the city and is a feature of the private school system in Dublin. Every year round 20 boys’ schools compete for the Leinster Schools Cup – almost all of the participants are private fee-paying schools.

Provincial Rugby

There are four provincial rugby teams on the island of Ireland – Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht. They compete among themselves and with similar sized teams from the UK and Europe. Leinster plays its home games in Dublin’s RDS Arena in Ballsbridge or in the aforementioned Aviva Stadium.

Deirbhile Nic a Bháird of Ireland is tackled during a TikTok Women’s Six Nations Rugby Championship match

National Rugby

Most Dubliners follow Gaelic games and football more avidly than rugby. But everyone seems to have an opinion on international games.

After crushing the New Zealand All-Blacks at an iconic match in November 2018, the senior men’s team cemented its place as the world’s second-best team. The following year, they wrested the top spot from New Zealand for the first time ever.

This victory was short-lived, but it generated huge interest in the sport and attracted many new Irish fans. Currently, Ireland’s men’s team is fourth in the World Rugby Rankings, while the national women’s team places eighth.

If rugby isn’t your thing, you can find out about other popular sports in Dublin here.

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Soccer in Dublin

While Gaelic games are the most watched sports in Ireland, more people play soccer than any other sport. Soccer, which is commonly referred to as football in Dublin, is governed by the FAI. It oversees Ireland’s domestic leagues, as well as its national teams. The different levels of soccer in Dublin Football is especially popular in Dublin’s urban areas. The Leinster Senior Football League, which operates the city’s amateur leagues, has 20 different divisions to suit players of every calibre.


Gaelic Games in Dublin

As the name suggests, Gaelic games are Ireland’s national sports. They are unique to Ireland and officially include Gaelic Football, Ladies Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie, Handball and Rounders. The two primary men’s Gaelic games are football and hurling, which fall under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Women also play Gaelic football under the Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association and camogie, which is almost identical to hurling, under The Camogie Associati


Other popular sports

If you’re not into Gaelic games, soccer or rugby, there are plenty of other popular sports to play across the city and county of Dublin. The Federation of Irish Sport represents national and local sports bodies in Ireland. Its membership consists of over 100 different organisations from every corner of the country. So this just shows the diversity of activities available. Below is a list of just some of the sporting activit