Ireland's Jack Conan at the Aviva Stadium in November. Gary Carr/INPHO

'It absolutely matters' - Hopes rise for full houses at Ireland's Six Nations games

NPHET’s latest advice to the government could result in a major financial boost for the IRFU.

THERE WERE RECENT fears about only small crowds being allowed into Six Nations games but things are looking far better two weeks out from the start of the championship.

With NPHET advising the Cabinet that it supports almost all of the current Covid-19 restrictions being removed, there is now strong hope that Ireland will be able to welcome a full house to the Aviva Stadium for their Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday 5 February.

With crowd restrictions also lifting in Scotland, Wales, and France, it may be that none of the competing nations will have to deal with limited attendances for the much-anticipated 2022 championship.

The prospect comes as a major financial boost to the IRFU and its fellow Six Nations unions, all of whom are so reliant on matchday revenue to stay afloat.

And for Andy Farrell and his players, who got a taste of big crowds last November, it will come as a huge relief as they target Ireland’s first Six Nations title since 2018.

Speaking earlier this week before last night’s news of the latest NPHET advice to the government, Ireland and Leinster back row Jack Conan underlined just how much full crowds mean to the players.

“It absolutely matters,” said Conan. “It’s one of the best things about playing rugby, to have the support of friends and family there.

“It’s one of the big reasons why you play, to give the people that are closest to you, the people that you love, the people that support you when times are bad and when times are good, to give them that big day out.

“They can come to the RDS and they can see you play and you can win in front of them. It means the world and it’s one of the reasons why everyone plays rugby really. Please God we’ll be able to get people back to the RDS and back to the Aviva in the coming weeks.

 “Obviously other countries have made that decision already and it would be great to play away and have people in stadiums, and hopefully we can follow suit and have as many people there because that extra volume, that extra noise, the atmosphere, it just makes those days extra special.”

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