Capital to get €21m windfall as fans arrive for rugby bonanza
THOUSANDS of French rugby fans will deliver a financial windfall for hotels, pubs and clubs as Dublin hosts two European finals this weekend.
With some 22,000 French expected to visit the capital, the feast of rugby begins with the Amlin Challenge Cup final tomorrow night, with local heroes Leinster taking on Stade Francais Paris at the RDS.
The main course comes on Saturday afternoon with Clermont Auvergne and Toulon contesting the Heineken Cup final.
Rugby chiefs said there were still around 1,000 tickets available for Saturday's final, with prices starting at €35.
Publican Charlie Chawke, who owns Searsons pub on Baggot Street, said the double bill would have a "fantastic impact" for pubs. "But it would be a lot better if we had an Irish team (in the Heineken Cup final) – the Irish drink more than the French," he joked.
The visiting fans are expected to deliver a €21m boost to the city's coffers, according to estimates by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. The Irish Hotels Federation estimates it will result in €12m in additional revenue for accommodation, food and drink.
The Gibson Hotel's Adrian McLaughlin said it was a chance to "showcase the city" to thousands of overseas fans, who would hopefully return.
Paris-born chef Patrick Guilbaud, who is expecting a bumper weekend at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant adjacent to the Merrion Hotel, said he felt fans would enjoy exploring the city.
"Clermont would be extremely passionate about their rugby, they'll be very colourful. They will make a lot of fun," he said.
European Rugby Cup chief executive Derek McGrath said 12-months of work had gone into ensuring it was a bumper weekend, with more than 70,000 people in total attending the games.
A 'champions village' has set up at Merrion Square for fans to enjoy live music and a broadcast of the game, in addition to bars and food stalls.
Failte Ireland has offered a package for 5,000 fans, which includes seats to both finals and a one-day free admission pass to visit more than 30 attractions around the city. `