Staggering figures see Irish rugby fans priced out of World Cup dream
After running the math, the cheapest possible fly, hotel and ticket combo for Ireland's group clash with the Springboks was a staggering €580.
Irish rugby fans are in a buoyant mood, and why wouldn't they be?
Having just claimed a fourth ever Grand Slam, seeing all four provinces make the URC knockout stages and Leinster fighting for European glory this weekend, it has been a season to remember for everyone associated with Irish rugby.
This unrivalled success both domestically and internationally has paved way to a renewed sense of optimism ahead of this autumn's Rugby World Cup in France, as Ireland seek to end their quarter final hoodoo.
However, after taking a glance at the sums of money involved in following Andy Farrell's men to Paris, it appears that most Irish rugby fans will be watching from the confines of their living room rather than the rapturous surroundings of the State de France.
Rugby has often been maligned for being inaccessible to the working classes of the nation, and jeered for being a game revolving around elitism.
The majority of rugby fans would of course rebuke that statement, but after crunching the numbers around Ireland's biggest group game and any following knock-out fixtures, there is no arguing that a large swathe of the rugby-watching public will not be able to afford an autumnal sojourn to the French capital.
Sell your soul to see the Saffa's:
For that penultimate group stage clash versus the defending world champions South Africa, the cheapest possible fee to attend the game including only flights, a hotel (one night only) and the lowest grade ticket, would set you back €580.
The cheapest direct flights to Paris for that weekend would see you depart Dublin Saturday lunch time, returning early Sunday morning for the 9pm Saturday kick-off. Even considering these awkward departure times and just 18 hours in the French capital, the cost for a return fare was still €361.
Thinking of outfoxing the airline companies with a jaunt on the ferry from Ireland to Cherbourg? Think again, with the cheapest economy ticket for a car and two passengers coming in at €501, and that's before you factor in the usual driving related expenses.
Regarding accommodation, according to hotel site Booking.com, the cheapest hotel in Paris city centre on the 23rd of September is currently sitting at €144, for what is a 2-star hotel with less than favourable reviews.
If you decide to 'treat' yourself, the cheapest 3-star option is €221, and if you get notions, the lowest priced 4-star option is a staggering €301 for the single night.
Then you have the price of a ticket to the big game, with the cheapest category 4 ticket in the rafters of the State de France commanding a fee of €75.
The slightly better situated category 3 seats are priced at €135, with category 2 (€210) and category 1 (€300), making the game the second most expensive group clash in terms of ticketing behind the opening night encounter between hosts France and the All Blacks.
Knock-out rugby delivers knock-out blow to bank balance:
For the most hopeful of Ireland fans looking to beat the rush and secure some semi-affordable prices for what would be Ireland's maiden World Cup semi final, you too are set to have your best laid plans scuppered.
Irish rugby fans prize should Johnny Sexton lead his side past the quarter final Everest of either France or the All Blacks? A whopping €800 for the cheapest Thursday (19th) to Sunday (22nd) option, given that the semi finals are played on both the Friday and Saturday nights.
6.40 am return flights from budget airline Vueling will set you back to the tune of roughly €300, with the cheapest 2-star hotel option for the French capital for that weekend coming in at €420. Let's not forget your nose-bleed seat ticket for €80 either.
If you wish to flex your financial clout in Paris and opt for the lavish lifestyle which comes with a Parisian 3-star hotel, that will set you back a further €100, bringing your total outlay for just the cheapest iterations of direct flights, accommodation and match ticket to a paltry €900 all in.
Again, if you wish to witness any actual rugby and sit within reasonable proximity to the pitch, the weekend becomes all the more expensive. Category 3 tickets are set at €170, with category 2's and 1's coming in at €350 and €550 respectively.
Similarly, the best priced option for Irish rugby fans should Ireland reach the holy grail of a World Cup final is roughly €600 for 17 hours in Paris.
Direct flights for €321, with a 6am return the day after Johnny Sexton and co lift the Webb Ellis Cup will surely leave a few sore heads, but take comfort in the fact you only had to pay €100 for a seat from which you saw nothing and €150 for a 2-star hotel who's best review remarked "Not so clean, quite ugly and a bit tatty, but there was a bed".
So, if you're planning on making the trip of a lifetime to follow Andy Farrell's all-conquering side around France this autumn, make sure to crack out the swear jar at home, or alternatively follow Eamon Ryan's advice and look into the logistics around cycling.
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