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Croke Park

Organisers deny claims of discrimination against rugby fans over alcohol rules at Croke Park

The stadium forbids alcohol to be consumed in the seated or terrace areas at all GAA games.

ORGANISERS OF A rugby match this weekend at Croke Park have denied that rules against drinking in the seating area is discriminatory against fans of the sport. 

The denials follow criticism of the announcement that spectators would not be allowed to drink alcohol during the European Champions Cup semi-final which sees Leinster face Northampton on Saturday.

Ciara Kelly of Newstalk has said that the ban on drinking in certain areas is due to a “GAA chip on the shoulder”, because rugby is an English invention.

“They don’t care what other things do, but rugby is still the foreign Sasanach sport and we’re not going to let them drink if we can’t drink,” she said.

“I think it’s a chip, I genuinely think it is.

“What does the GAA care what rugby fans do when they hire out Croke Park? They let other people drink there.”

However, organisers of the event, including the GAA, Leinster Rugby, and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have all denied that rugby fans are being mistreated.

“The standard operating procedures in place for Saturday’s fixture are those used for all sporting fixtures in Croke Park,” Alan Milton, GAA director of communications told The Journal.

“Alcohol is available in the usual areas of the stadium, both before and during the fixture.”

Croke Park’s rules on alcohol are available on the stadium’s website, which states that “alcohol is not permitted to be consumed in the seated or terrace area and must be consumed in the concourse area”.

Spectators are allowed to drink alcohol in their seats at the Aviva Stadium, however this has been criticised, including by people who say that it spoils the atmosphere at games, or that standing to let out people going to the bar or toilets disrupts their experience of the match.

Rugby organisations involved with the Saturday’s game have also sided with the GAA, with commentator and communications manager for Leinster rugby Marcus Ó Buachalla saying on X.com,“GAA and Croke Park Stadium have been nothing but welcoming of Leinster Rugby throughout this process”, and that the rules were normal for “ALL games” hosted at the stadium.

European Professional Club Rugby also told The Journal that they would be “respecting the GAA’s regulations regarding alcohol consumption in the stadium bowl”.

The controversy over drinking at the stadium was prompted in part by an opinion piece in The Irish Independent by Daniel Ruddock, who noted that the same rules did not appear to apply during gigs or during an American college football game in 2014.

Ruddock noted that Croke Park distinguished between “GAA events and non-GAA events” and wondered why the rules appeared to be lax for some, such as American football, but not rugby.

The GAA did not answer The Journal’s inquiries on alcohol in Croke Park for other sports, such as American Football.

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