There is a long and wonderful tradition of ex-rugby players opening and owning great bars and restaurants. Many leave the world of the scrum behind and dive into the world of the scrumptious.

Some have been very successful indeed and here at Irish Rugby Tours we thought we’d highlight just a few of our favourites.

Sean Lynch, The Swan, Dublin City Centre

This part of Dublin has become somewhat trendier since Sean Lynch’s family took over The Swan all the way back in 1937 but this watering hole has maintained its integrity. Mementos of Sean’s time as an Irish prop and British and Irish Lion are gently, rather than glaringly, scattered throughout the pub. Sean got fifteen caps for Ireland between 1971 and 1975 and his stint with the Lions came in 1971 when he was an integral part of a series win against New Zealand. This is a great pub for a couple of chatty pints on a Friday evening after work and pours a fine pint of Guinness.

We would be happy to go for a pint with you when you bring your team to Dublin

The old Victorian interior of Sean Lynch’s Swan in Dublin.

Roger Spurrel, The Boathouse, Newquay Bay

Sometimes there are no need for words.

Roger Spurrel was a blindside flanker of the great Bath team of the mid-eighties and many believe was the best to never play for England.Remember Wayne Barnes and Richard Hill?

That lot.

Having been involved in entrepreneurial ventures during his playing career, Spurrel went on to open a seafood restaurant in Newquay Bay in Cornwall called The Boathouse.

As you probably guessed from the name, The Boathouse is situated right on the harbour and looks back up Cornwall’s impressive coastline. Its location is nothing short of breathtaking and the lobster is pretty special too, quite apt for someone with a reputation for not letting his victims on the pitch out of his clutches.

Avery special spot indeed.

Talk to us today about taking your team on a rugby trip to Bath

Talk to us today about taking your team on a rugby trip to Bristol

Serge Betsen & Phillipe Bernat-Salles, Red Café, Biarritz

Former French internationals, Serge Betsen and Philippe Bernat-Salles, opened this bar just as their careers with le bal du oval were coming to an end. According to quite a few, they have the best pinxtos and chiprions in Biarritz and, if you’re into it, they do a beef and snail stew.

They are also very, very heavily into rugby. If it’s on TV, it’s on in the Red Café…all day.

Fluency in French is not required to understand they like their rugby here…

Stuart Hogg & Alastair Kellock, Finsbay Flatiron, Glasgow

Opened last year, Finsbay Flatiron in the Woodlands neighbourhood of Glasgow is going a bomb. As the name suggests they specialise in steak. In fact, they really only do steak, though they do a Sunday Roast every week (presumably it’s beef). The restaurant in Glasgow’s Westend has been getting solid reviews right across the social media and media spectrum.

They are not afraid to use their star investors to attract an audience either and on March 19th they are set to host an evening with a certain full back who is not shy of ‘hogg’ing the limelight. Prices are pretty reasonable too with midweek…steaks starting at £8. There is a great selection of wines and beers to wash it all down with.

Finsbay Flatiron has been getting solid reviews since opening in 2018.

If you would like to bring your team to discover this happening corner of Glasgow please fell free to get in touch with us today.

Fabio Ongaro and Salvatore “Totò” Perugini,Uno Due, Rome

The friendly staff at Bar Uno Due – Fabio Ongaro & Toto Perugini

In late January a new rugby pub called Uno Due opened in central Rome. In our years of looking after the Italian national team on their trips abroad, Fabio Ongaro and Salvatore “Totò” Perugini have become great friends of ours here at Irish Rugby Tours. We were therefore delighted to hear about this venture, particularly when we heard it was opening just a few days before Ireland played Italy in the Six Nations! On sharing the news of our friends’ new venture with our followers on Facebook and Instagram we got a huge response. There is a lot of love and good wishes for these two old troopers of the Italian front row. 

The pub-restaurant is located right in the Centro Storico in Piazza di S. Andrea della Valle. In addition to serving a selection of international beers and screening rugby games, the two-level venue will offer breakfasts as well as Roman dishes for lunch and a classic hamburgheria menu for dinner.

Talk to us today about taking your team on a rugby tour to Italy. and we will bring you to meet the lads.

Gordon D’Arcy, The Exchequer, Dublin

Quality with a touch of class at The Exchequer in Ranelagh

Long before retiring in 2015 with a plethora of caps and cups to his name, Gordon D’Arcy had gone into business. In 2009, the centre opened The Exchequer with his business partners Peter Rock and Ian Tucker. It has been a popular haunt ever since and its reputation for cocktails is well-founded. Last year, the trio decided to bring their ‘meet, eat & drink’ ethos to trendy Ranelagh in Dublin 6 and judging by the reviews it’s been getting it’s as scrummy as the man himself.

Come and have a cocktail with us when you bring your team to Dublin




In the years years since we first started taking teams to Spain, the country’s rugby landscape has changed immeasurably. The decision to host last year’s European Cup Final in Bilboa was more than a nod to how the Spanish Rugby Federation has developed the game over recent years. Those efforts have paid off. Spain now has 221 clubs and over 51,000 players listed on its books.

Last year a crowd of 35,000 turned up the final of the Copa del Rey de Rugby to see VRAC Quesos Entrepinares beat Silver Storm El Salvador 20 -16 in a scintillating final. Rugby is becoming more popular by the day and though it will be long time before it can even dream of overtaking football, Spanish rugby fans (and their players) are a passionate lot.

Why choose Spain for a rugby tour?

Irish Rugby Tours has no fewer than four bases in Spain. Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and Salou are home to the best rugby facilities and coaches in the country. Each city has its own unique features and many of those are already world famous. But while you may know Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona or the Prado Museum in Madrid, we have discovered many of our own historical hideaways and cultural gems over the last two decades of coming to this rich country.

Salou is home to Port Aventura Theme Park plus an aquatic centre.

Many of these local landmarks have been brought to our attention by the rugby teams we source to play games against our touring sides. The famous spirit of rugby camaraderie is alive and well in Spain and the locals are keen to show off their unique take on the ethos.

As well as exposing your team to the different tastes, food and culture of Spain, there is, of course, the weather. There is no better rugby bolthole than Spain in mid-winter and we have many teams who will testify to that.

Valencia has some of Spain’s most stunning beaches and its city centre is full of history.

Spain in the Rugby World Cup

Spain have qualified just once for the Rugby World Cup. In 1999, they lost all three pool games against Uruguay, Scotland and South Africa and failed to score a try. They narrowly (and controversially) missed out on automatic qualification for this year’s tournament.

Who are Spain’s Best players?

Spain have a number of players who have played in the French Top14. Flying full-back, Charly Malié plays for tenth placed Pau. But perhaps their most famous player in these parts is Oriol Ripol. The centre-cum-winger from Barecelona scored a try in Sale Sharks first and only Premiership Final victory against the mighty Leicester.

Oriol Ripol playing for Sale Sharks.

You can read a little bit more about some of the hot spots we’ve discovered in our years of visiting this beautiful country here.