Pubs stay shut for games due to drink laws
THE 11-hour time difference with New Zealand is bad news for the publicans.
With most of Ireland's games being played around breakfast time -- and licensing laws that prevent the sale of alcohol until after 10.30am at the earliest -- most publicans said they can't afford to open up for the games.
TV viewership figures are expected to be down too. The last Rugby World Cup in France attracted an average audience of 488,000 for Ireland's four pool games, but analysts believe this year's figures will be much closer to the average of 270,000 that tuned in to watch Ireland play the opening stages of the Australian Rugby World Cup in 2003.
Ireland begin their World Cup campaign by taking on the USA Eagles at 7am (Irish time) tomorrow and one thing appears certain -- fans won't be watching it in the pub.
"The vast majority of pubs do not have a licence to sell alcohol at that hour of the morning," said Vintners Federation of Ireland CEO Padraig Cribben.
He added that without drink sales it simply isn't economical for pubs to open their doors during the matches.
"But there are pubs that are rugby-orientated and what I'm hearing is that these are opening for breakfasts," Mr Cribben said.
One such pub is Kiely's in the south Dublin suburb of Donnybrook.
"We've opened for all the early rugby matches from the Southern Hemisphere for years," bar manager John Gallagher said.
"You'd be surprised how much of a good atmosphere there is without alcohol," he added.