Leinster plays most of their home matches in the RDS in south-central Dublin.
Dublin is my home town and I often travel from abroad to attend matches.
Here are my best tips on how to get there, where to stay, and where to have a great time!
Leinster’s Other Ground
If your club team is playing Leinster, then double-check that you’ll be in the RDS.
You probably will be, but Leinster holds several matches a season in the national rugby stadium nearby.
Go to our separate travel guide on The Aviva Stadium for all the info.
Where To Stay
The RDS is in south Dublin and the pubs around the area provide a great atmosphere on match weekends.
However, I’ll show you later in this guide show that it’s easy to get to the stadium from the city centre where there is better shopping.
So, I’ll split the accommodation guide into two parts.
Near the RDS
There are some great choices of hotels near the RDS. As this is an affluent area, accommodation can get a little pricey if you are booking at short notice.
However, the hotels are a high standard. If you don’t want to stray far from the hotels, their pubs and lounges will show other rugby matches over the weekend.
You have more of a choice of restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing if you are based in central Dublin.
The famous dublin theatres like the Abbey and the Gaiety are also central.
The other advantage is that you’re most likely to get budget accommodation in this area.
Guide To The RDS
The RDS was not built as a rugby ground. It is actually a horse-jumping arena.
Leinster leases the ground for rugby season and puts in some temporary stands.
North and South Stands (uncovered and seated)
The north and south stands behind the posts are uncovered.
Aside from rain, this part of Dublin often has a wind blowing and you are completely exposed! So, be sure to bring layers and rainwear.
All tickets for the north and south stands are for seats but the seats aren’t allocated. So, you can pick and choose your spot.
Some people prefer to go right to the back where they can stand without interfering with other people’s views.
In older times, everybody would also be smoking up there! But all stadiums in Ireland are now non-smoking.
You have a great view of one half of the pitch but have to squint to see up the other end. However, there is a big screen at each end.
The screen by the north stand is huge. The screen at the other end is a little smaller due to the available space.
Grandstand (covered, all-seated)
The Grandstand is on the west side of the stadium with the Anglesea stand on the east.
The stand covered. However, if you’re sitting in the front row you should bring rainwear.
As the stadium is close to the sea, there can be a swirling wind. On a rainy day, the rain can blow over the roof and back toward spectators.
However, the central areas of the Grandstands have the best views in the grounds (in my opinion).
The seats at both ends of the Grandstand are cheaper but still have unobstructed views of the pitch.
Anglesea Stand (covered, mostly seated)
There are two standing terraces at the lowest tier of the Anglesea Stand. This is where the most raucous Leinster fans bellow out their upport.
The rest of the stand is allocated seating.
Unlike the Grandstand, there are several pillars across the Anglesea Stand. That means that some seats have obstructed views.
If your view is obstructed, you may be able shift to another seat after the match starts. This is most likely in a URC match when the stadium is not completely full.
If the rightful owner of the seat arrives late and taps you on the shoulder, give a friendly smile and move back. You won’t get a harsh word,
Leinster fans are sometimes derided for being too polite and respectful at matches (i.e. less noisy than other fans). But that can be an advantage for visitors!
There are toilet facilities at the side ends of the North and South Stands.
If you’re in a pub before the match, I advise that you avail of the facilities there. The queues for the stadium loos can be long if it’s right before the kick-off.
There are two main bar and food areas behind the Grandstand and the Anglesea Stand. There are smaller drink stalls also dotted around.
The RDS usually has some variety of fast food. There are always stalls for burgers and chips. The other stalls change from season to season. There’s often an Asian food van with noodles.
Entering the stadium
The stadium is quite small, so it doesn’t really matter which entrance you use. You won’t have much of a walk to get to the other side.
As a visitor, you’re probably approaching from further north. There are several manned gates with stewards along the perimeter wall. They’ll point you in the right direction.
Getting To The RDS
The RDS is on the south side of Dublin in some of the safest areas of the city.
If you’d like a stroll from the city centre, it’s about a 40-minute walk.
Local train (DART)
There is a train station at Lansdowne Road which is right beside the national rugby stadium (the Aviva).
This is also the closest train station to the RDS. I timed it recently and it’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the station to the gates.
The local Dublin train line is known as the DART. If you are in the city centre, you can catch the DART going south from Connolly Station or Tara Street.
Here’s my tip for Connolly Station: the platform is a solid six-minute walk from entering the front of the station. Be aware of that if you’re cutting things fine!
You can buy a return ticket with cash or card to Lansdowne Road at any DART station.
The problem for visitors is that local city buses don’t take cash. You need to purchase a pre-paid card known as a LEAP card.
If you’re arriving at Dublin Airport, then buying a 1-day or 3-day Visitor LEAP card should be cost-effective.
It gives unlimited travel on the DART, the tram (LUAS), and the buses. I’ll put more detail in the “Air” section below.
If you have a travel card, then the best buses are numbers 4 or 7 from O’Connell Street (the main street). You will be getting off the bus at Ballsbridge.
Although that is the name of the wider area, there is literally a bridge that goes over the canal.
There are popular rugby pubs on either side of the bridge. You’ll see awnings and rival supporters drinking happily outside.
That’s your cue to get off the bus at the next step.
There are taxi ranks on O’Connell Street.
Taxis in Dublin also use a free app service called “Free Now”.
If you install that on your phone, you can enter your location and you should get picked up within ten minutes (often sooner).
Taxi drivers can pull in and drop you off right at the walls around the stadium.
Driving to the stadium
There are no public car parks near the stadium. A lot of the residential areas do not allow parking.
However, the local rugby clubs (and the cricket club) welcome the extra bit of cash that they get by providing parking spaces for about €10.
My two tips are Wanderers RFC and the Cricket Club on Anglesea Road. You’ll have a ten-minute walk to the stadium.
These car parks shouldn’t be full for URC matches. However, If it’s a big European match you should aim to get there a half-hour early.
Getting There By Air
Dublin is served by one large airport on the north side of the city.
Dublin Airport is on the opposite side of town from the stadium. Be sure you factor this into your travel times.
There is no train from the airport. But it is well-served by coaches and city buses.
The coaches are more expensive than the city buses (the fare is up to €10). There are several that will drop you on or near O’Connell Street in the city centre.
One company, Aircoach, operates a service from the airport to Ballsbridge. You will be a ten-minute walk from the stadium.
Personally, I prefer to take a city bus from the airport to the city centre. This is much cheaper than a coach.
From there, I get the DART train from Connolly Station.
There are several kiosks where you can get the visitor LEAP travel card that is valid on local buses, trains, and trams. It’s not valid on the private coaches.
If you’re arriving at Terminal 1, there is a travel desk that sells them.
In Terminal 2, you can pick them up at the WH Smith newsagent or the Spar shop.
Of course, you can also get a taxi from the airport. But as the stadium is on the other side of town, this is an expensive option.
Great Rugby Pubs In Dublin
If you’re traveling to a Leinster match, it won’t be obvious that it’s a rugby match day if you’re in the city centre.
Rugby is a fair bit behind Gaelic sports (GAA) and soccer in terms of popularity. If you want to see other rugby matches before or after your match, they may not be on in the smaller pubs in the city centre.
However, the areas closer to the Aviva Stadium are rugby strongholds.
There are some great choices of traditional rugby pubs that will show other international or club matches.
If you’re walking from the city centre, then there are several on Baggot Street. Searsons and The Waterloo are just two of several options.
There are several cafes and eateries on Baggot Street too.
The stadium is in an area known as Ballsbridge, which also has many popular rugby pubs.
The Bridge and the Horse Show House are great spots.