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Sunday 21 January 2018

Fans count the hours - and cost - as World Cup beckons

Ireland fans cheer on the team during the quarter-final clash with Wales at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. Photo: Brendan Moran
Ireland fans cheer on the team during the quarter-final clash with Wales at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. Photo: Brendan Moran
A fan celebrates during the Italy game at the last World Cup
Paddy Kennedy with his girlfriend Lorna
Ireland rugby team captain, Paul O'Connell

Sam Griffin

The five-day countdown is on for the Rugby World Cup - but Irish fans are likely to be counting the cost for a lot longer.

The fact the competition is being hosted in England and Wales removes the costly long-haul flights experienced by fans at the last tournament in New Zealand.

However, a study has revealed Irish fans could fork out more than €20,000 following the side when tickets, accommodation, food and beverages, transport and official team merchandise are all taken into account.

But the same research also says those doing RWC 2015 'on the cheap' could pull the whole thing off for as little as €3,820.

Accommodation is one of the biggest costs facing Irish supporters, with hotels hiking prices six-fold and almost all traditional options booked up at this stage.

However, thriftier supporters have been finding ways around the traditional methods of following Joe Schmidt's side in a bid to do this year's tournament on a budget.

Airbnb has seen an explosion in bookings in all the cities hosting matches.

Spokeswoman Alison Wood said there had been a greater than 100pc increase in nights booked for RWC nights, versus non-RWC nights.

And in Cardiff, where Ireland kick off their campaign against Canada on Saturday, there has been a 500pc increase. However, the severe shortage of accommodation in the Welsh capital has seen prices rise dramatically.

"The average calendar price for active hosts in Cardiff is £182, greater than London at £98, reflecting the accommodation shortages and high awareness of the RWC in Cardiff," Ms Wood said, which makes it the most expensive venue.

Eager to avoid such expense, passionate Ireland fan Paddy Kennedy (26), from Galway, has instead opted to get a camper van with some friends and set up home in Cardiff Harlequins rugby club - where they will be charged somewhere between £5 and £10 a night.

"Cardiff was totally booked out. We were even looking at Bristol, but that's 50 miles away and, even then, it would have cost us around £400 a night," he told the Irish Independent.

"I remembered another friend had camped in Harlequins for the Leinster Heineken Cup final match, so I fired off an email and they came back and said we could stay for around £5. We should be able to do it for around €450 for the four days. The most expensive thing was the tickets, actually."

Another way of getting to the World Cup on the cheap is by volunteering with the official competition 'pack' - who will be assisting fans, players and officials.

Eoin Kilkenny (30), from Drumcondra in Dublin, will be working in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on the accreditation team looking after the teams, press, officials and VIPs.

"I think it's a brilliant way to take in the tournament," he said. "As well as getting to see the behind-the-scenes element of the competition, you get to interact with people from across the world. You might get to see people and games you wouldn't normally consider going to off your own bat."

Ryanair has put on 52 special World Cup flights between Dublin and Cardiff, as well as 12 between Shannon and Cardiff, to accommodate Irish fans travelling for the World Cup - with only a few places still available.

Aer Lingus has also put on extra flights, while Irish Ferries says there will be sufficient capacity to carry the numbers without any additional crossings being scheduled.

Irish Independent

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