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Rugby clash beats Kenny in battle of the TV ratings

ENDA Kenny might be riding high in the opinion polls but new figures reveal Leinster are more popular.

Up to one million people are likely to tune into the boys in blues' game against Cardiff in the Aviva at some point this evening, the Herald can reveal.

The huge viewership expected is reflected in the fact that the rugby boys outstripped the Taoiseach's address to the nation last weekend.

As they battled fierce rivals Munster on the pitch in the Rabodirect Pro12 league, they were simultaneously taking on the Taoiseach in the TV ratings war.

Just as Mr Kenny took to the stage at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in the National Convention Centre, the game in Thomond Park was on a knife-edge. The teams were tied at nine points each with around 20 minutes left.

And while the Herald observed dozens of Fine Gael delegates ignoring their leaders' speech to keep track of events on their iPhones, viewers at home also stuck with the rugby.

The figures show that there were 217,000 viewers for the speech. But any Leinster fans watching RTE Two had plenty to celebrate as Leinster ran out 18-9 winners after a tough battle.

And an RTE spokesperson confirmed: "RTE Sports coverage of the Rabodirect Pro12 coverage of Munster v Leinster last Saturday on RTE Two attracted an average audience of 270,000 across the two and a half hour programme and reached an audience of 894,000 people."