Sunday 22 September 2019

World Cup travel surge expected as Irish among favourites

Green giants: Ireland players celebrate Jacob Stockdale’s try. Photos: Sportsfile/Douglas O’Connor
Green giants: Ireland players celebrate Jacob Stockdale’s try. Photos: Sportsfile/Douglas O’Connor
Green giants: Johnny Sexton after the match. Photos: Sportsfile/Douglas O’Connor
Bundee, Adrianna (7) and Kayla Aki at the Shelbourne Hotel yesterday. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Travel agents are expecting a spike in interest in packages to Japan for the Rugby World Cup after Ireland's historic win over New Zealand at the weekend.

While many die-hard fans will have organised their plane tickets months ago, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson predicts there will be more fans interested in making the trip next September now Ireland are among the favourites.

However, fans should be aware that prices might soar with demand as airlines typically raise their fares in tandem with important events.

"Hundreds would have booked already irrespective of the result," he told the Irish Independent.

"It might boost bookings even if several fans have already made sure to book their seats on flights."

However, deciding to head out to support the Boys in Green is unlikely to be done on a whim. He estimated that airline packages could cost as much as €6,000.

Mr Dawson also pointed out that there are very few direct flights to Japan from Ireland and many packages will require fans to travel via England, competing with English fans for seats on aircraft.

"There aren't many direct services, a lot of people might have to fly via England and many English fans would have already booked," he explained.

"Packages offered by travel agents would cost about €4,000 to €6,000.

"We would still expect a surge," he continued.

"Fans would still get out even if so many are booked in advance but they wouldn't get as good a deal - people booking early would have found that air fares were better.

"Airlines would probably put up their price when something like this is on," he added.

Meanwhile, celebrations continued yesterday for the Irish players who toppled the formidable All Blacks - no doubt the memory of Jacob Stockdale's heroic try was recalled over and over.

And while there is no arguing it was a sweet victory for all in the Irish camp, it must have been even sweeter for Ireland centre Bundee Aki.

Originally from New Zealand, he declared for Ireland in 2017 through the residency rule.

Yesterday, he enjoyed the victory over the country of his birth with his wife Kayla and their daughter Adrianna (7) at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, where he also posed for photographs with some young fans.

Of course, Aki was also led into battle by a fellow New Zealander-turned-Irishman, coach Joe Schmidt.

This is the Schmidt's second victory against the All Blacks, the first coming in Chicago in 2016.

The first win on Irish soil, however, was a whole new level of success. And while he laughed off the idea of Ireland now being the world's best team, he can certainly take the credit for bringing the team to new heights.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that captain Rory Best instilled in every Irish player the belief they could not be bullied.

He arranged that during the Haka the team would take a solitary step forward. "I think it just represented the fact we weren't going to take a backward step the whole game," explained flanker Josh van der Flier. "That's what Rory Best said to us, we wanted to go after them, not step away, not accept being bullied by them.

"We knew we had to come out and go after them."

That they did.

Irish Independent

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