Behind the scenes at Lansdowne Road

I was stewarding at Lansdowne last Saturday for the Celtic Cup final. After an entertaining 1st half of good rugby but a disappointing 2nd, Munster came out on top with a 27-16 victory over Llanelli Scarlets[1].

I've been stewarding at quite a few matches this season – it's a great way to be guaranteed a ticket for the big international games (Six Nations: England and France at home this year) and big European games (Leinster vs Leicester – the less said the better). I'm also guaranteed a great view, normally from the West Upper just above the camera nests.

The downside of it is having to be at the stadium 3 hours before the scheduled kick-off time (yeah, you read that correctly – three hours!), which is quite a long time to be standing around. I've gotten the organisation down – to be comfortable on a cold day I need woolly hat, gloves, warm jacket, small radio (both for match commentary and pre-match boredom), sandwiches and a drink of some sort. And generally it's too hard to carry a bag, so I end up looking like I weight 300lbs (instead of my actual ~220) because of all the stuff in my pocketssss (Gollum would have a good time riddling with me).

Once the earliest fans start arriving 70-80 mins before kick-off things become more entertaining – there's no sport in the world with fans better than in rugby for their good natured bantering and discussion of the game with their opponents, the man in the street, and the steward in the stand.

Lansdowne Road in glorious May sunshine. Not as impressive as Croker by a long shot unfortunately. Taken from the south west corner looking north east.

My fellow stewards standing around under the West stand about 2 hours before kick-off. Quite cold in the shade!

Some of the Scarlets players just after the game. I was on the pitch, protecting them from crazed fans, somehow found time to get a picture or 2…

1. (For those unfamiliar with Welsh placenames, Llanelli is pronounced something like “cthlan-ehcth-li”)

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