Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Ulster rugby fans scramble for RaboDirect Leinster final tickets at RDS

An Ulster fan celebrates Tommy Bowe's try 

INPHO/Dan Sheridan
An Ulster fan celebrates Tommy Bowe's try INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ulster's Paddy Jackson tackles Gareth Owen of Llanelli Scarlets INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ulster's Robbie Diack celebrates scoring a try INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
Ulster drive over for Robbie Diack to score a try INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
Ulster's Darren Cave is tackled by the Scarlet's Johan Synman and Rob McCusker INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
Ulster's Andrew Trimble and Scarlets' Liam Williams are sent to the sin-bin by referee Alan Rolland INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
Ulster's Rory Best is tackled by the Scarlet's Rhys Priestland INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
Scarlets' Ken Owens is stretched off injured INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ulster's Darren Cave beats Jonathan Davies and Gareth Davies of Llanelli Scarlets INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ulster's Rory Best tackles Gareth Davies of Llanelli Scarlets INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ulster's Rory Best with his son Ben after the match INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ulster captain Johann Muller after the match INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ulster's Tommy Bowe after the match INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ulster's Paddy Jackson and Tom Court after the match INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ulster's Andrew Trimble and Tom Court after the game INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The outcome of the game will be decided by the guile, power and skill of those taking to the pitch.

But the scrum for tickets in the run-up to the RaboDirect PRO12 final looks set to be just as big a struggle for Ulster fans keen to secure a place in Dublin's RDS stadium.

The ground – home of Ulster's cup final rivals Leinster – has been selected to stage the showpiece game.

With a capacity of just 18,500, the clamber for tickets has already begun.

Ulster's victory over Scarlets on Friday evening, followed by Leinster's win over Glasgow the following night, secured an all-Ireland final clash on Saturday, May 25.

Priority booking opened yesterday to current season ticket holders and will run until Thursday. Around 500 tickets have been designated for corporate supporters, with the remaining 18,000 equally divided between both provinces.

Eyebrows were raised that the game is not taking place at the 50,000-capacity Aviva Stadium in the Irish capital.

A number of fans took to social media yesterday to express their worries over missing out.

"It seems odd to play a final in a relatively small ground when you can play in one more than twice the size in the same city," one posted.

Another said: "Everything crossed I get my hands on a ticket. Stand up for the Ulstermen."

Last month Ulster Rugby confirmed it had put the RDS as its preferred 'home' ground should the team qualify for the final. This was because the home of Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill, does not yet have the required capacity of 18,000 stated by the competition's organisers to host the final.

With just two weeks between the semi-final and the final, rugby chiefs, both in the Ulster camp as well as the league organisers, opted for the RDS.

Sources within Ulster Rugby said the decision was taken as it was deemed unrealistic to expect to draw a sell-out crowd to the Aviva in such a short period of time. Indeed, Leinster failed to sell out the RDS for their semi-final match.

"The league ultimately makes the decision so we had to nominate," the Ulster source told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Leinster were also saying not to take it to the Aviva, as it is so hard to sell out. There will be 50/50 capacity, so while the final will be played at Leinster's home ground, it certainly won't be a larger home support.

"It won't be quite Ravenhill, but we will be aiming to make it as close to that as possible."

Ulster's Rory Best said he was unconcerned about playing the final in Dublin.

"We've known for a while that if we got to the final it wouldn't be in our home, but the big thing for us was that it's on the island," he said.

"It's only a short trip down the road to Dublin. It's no big deal for us. It's going to make it a wee bit more difficult for us because Leinster are going to be in their home ground, but with professional sport you get used to these things.

"A lot of us are used to playing in Dublin, a lot of us are used to Dublin being our home ground and we'll have a lot of support going down the motorway."

Having beaten Leinster at the RDS at Easter, Best said confidence is high in the Ulster camp of a repeat result in the showpiece final.

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