Leinster Rugby, one of the powerhouses of Europe.
Leinster Rugby are based in Dublin and compete in the Pro 12 (formerly the Celtic League) with teams from Ireland, Italy, Wales and Scotland.
Leinster Rugby is one of the four teams under the IRFU, with Munster, Ulster and Connacht. The Interprovincial matches between these neighbours has been held since 1875 and have attracted record crowds in recent years keen to see the rivalry play out.
Leinster have won four League Championships and have lifted the Heineken Cup Trophy three times. Praised for their style of play, there was criticism of their ability to close out important matches in knock out competitions but their recent achievements would suggest this has been resolved and they are a formidable team.
Nowhere was their self belief more apparent than their Heineken Cup victory over Northampton Saints in 2011. Trailing 22-6 at half-time they came out and scored 27 unaswered points to claim a thrilling victory 33-22. No one could doubt their mental strength after that display.
The 2012 Heineken Cup final featured two Irish teams, Leinster Rugby and Ulster who met in London at Twickenham Stadium to see who would lift the trophy. Leinster’s victory meant they were only the second team after the Leicester Tigers to win back to back championships.
In 2013 they won the last Amlin Challenge Cup before the European tournaments were restructured. They lifted the trophy after beating Stade Francais in front of their home crowd at the RDS.
The harp is the symbol of the Province of Leinster and the team has always worn a form of this emblem on their rugby jersey. The Leinster Rugby strip was originally green with a gold harp. When the team changed to blue the traditional harp was retained. In 2005 a new logo was designed, combining a rugby ball and stylised harp to good effect.
Leinster Rugby Stadium
Leinster Rugby’s original home was the Donnybrook stadium. Its 6,ooo capacity meant it was too small as the sport grew. Leinster still have offices opposite the stadium and its used by the youth teams and hosts amateur internationals, Leinster A and Ireland A games.
Leinster Rugby moved to the RDS Arena (normally a showjumping venue) initially for matches in the 2005-2006 Heineken Cup tournament but played all their matches there from the following season. The 18,500 capacity is often sold out and for Interprovincial matches the team move to the Aviva Stadium where crowds of over 51, ooo watch the spectacle.
Leinster were involved in the last match at the home of Irish Rugby Landsdowne Road which was demolished to make way for the Aviva Stadium. Leinster Rugby took on rivals Ulster in a tight contest, emerging 20-12 winners in a game that became known as ‘The Last Stand’.
Leinster Rugby Players
The Leinster side can boast many Irish International players amongst its ranks. Currently Cian Healy, Jonny Sexton, Mike Ross, Jaime Heaslip and Rob Kearney amongst others are in their squad.
The team also included arguably one of the most famous and admired rugby players of recent times by both public and peers, Brian O’Driscoll. The Centre played for Leinster Rugby throughout his club career. He holds many records with international rugby and the Six Nations for his try scoring. O’Driscoll retired from the game in 2014 after giving the fans and coach Joe Schmidt ‘one more year’.