5 Super Summer Rugby Books

Summer holidays are a great time to get through some rugby books. Though the men and women of the rugby world might be taking a well-deserved break from the oval ball, it doesn’t mean that we, the rugby mad fans, have to do the same. With that in mind, the gang at the offices of Irish Rugby Tours huddled together and came up with a list of some literature on lineouts, ligaments and lads on tour that we think you might enjoy.

Irish Rugby Tours top 5 Rugby Books for Summer

The Last Amateurs, Jonathan Bradley

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

In the early autumn of 1997, Ulster suffered a record-breaking 56-3 defeat away to Wasps in front of a jubilant crowd of four and a half thousand. Few would have wagered then that just over a year later they would be lifting the Heineken Cup. 

The Last Amateurs by Belfast Telegraph journalist, Jonathan Bradley, tells the story of how a team went from zeros to heroes in the most unlikely of fashions. 

This is a compelling read based on interviews with key members of the squad, including David Humphreys, Mark McCall, Simon Mason, Andy Ward and many more. The book focuses on the players, their varied backgrounds and how the team came together to become Ireland’s first European champions.




Proud: My Autobiography, Gareth Thomas

First published in 2014, Proud tells the story of the great centre’s struggle to deal with his own identity. A gay man in an outwardly heterosexual world of rugby, the only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of his secret was, somewhat paradoxically, on the pitch where he excelled.

All his success didn’t make the strain of hiding who he really was go away however. His fear that telling the truth about his sexuality would lose him everything, drove him close to the edge on at least two occasions, both of which are vividly described on these pages.

As well as his struggles, with his sexuality, we discover much about the former Welsh captain’s leadership skills and his desire to be the best in the game. Winner of the British Sports Book Awards Sports Book of the Year, this is a compelling read of a true rugby trailblazer.


Playing the Enemy, John Carlin

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

Another oldie but goodie. Playing the Enemy by John Carlin tells the story of the of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final and the role it played in creating a post-apartheid South African nationalism (for a while).

Originally published in 2008, Carlin interviewed many of the big players both within and without the immediate world of rugby.

Much of the squad and its management are involved but so too are Nelson Mandela’s bodyguards, ANC insiders and the head of the apartheid South African intelligence service. Carlin skilfully weaves their lives and reactions to the game into the fabric of South African society during its immediate transition to democracy. This book was the inspiration behind the movie Invictus.




The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby, Tony Collins

Tony Collins tells the often complex history of rugby and its development and doesn’t hide away from the game’s less than proud moments. While the oval ball has united nations such as Ireland it has divided others and excluded groups based on ethnicity. And it we are not just talking South Africa.

In 1921, the Springboks played the Maori All Blacks in New Zealand and won by a point. Because that win was too close for comfort, and would have cut against apartheid theories, Maoris were excluded from selection on tours to South Africa for many succeeding decades.

In 1949, New Zealand’s prime minister, publicly explaining why non-white citizens were being excluded, said otherwise New Zealand would not be able to tour South Africa. There are nuggets like this right throughout this excellent history which will give you a clear picture of the game’s history – both good and bad.

The Battle, Paul O’ Connell

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

There is violence, silliness and injuries, lots of injuries, in this mammoth biography from the former British and Irish Lions Captain.

We get fascinating insights into Declan Kidney, Eddie O’Sullivan and Joe Schmidt as well as a journey through O’Connell’s head, his battles with injuries, success and the pain-killer Difene.

An intelligent, sports-mad athlete who harboured dreams of being a professional golfer, he took the decision, with some help from his father, to concentrate on rugby. It turned out to be a great decision for Munster and Ireland but only time will tell if his fifty-year-old body will feel the same.    





Irish Rugby Tours chats to Union Cup Rugby ahead of Dublin Tournament

LGBT+ Rugby Tournament comes to Dublin this weekend

Union Cup Rugby Irish Rugby Tours

Rory Best gives the Emerald Warriors some tips

Ahead of the much anticipated Union Cup Rugby event in Dublin, Irish Rugby Tours had a quick chat with the organisers.

Starting Friday, 45 teams from 15 countries will be in Dublin to participate in Europe’s largest and best-known LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament. The Union Cup has come a long way since it started with just seven teams back in 2005.

That inaugural tournament was held in Montpellier in France. Since then it has been hosted every two years in cities across Europe.

This year’s Union Cup comes to Dublin off the back of hard work put in by local club and this year’s hosts Emerald Warriors. 2019 sees the introduction of a tournament held for women while men will compete in three separate tiers. All of the games take place in Dublin City University Campus. There will be an opening ceremony held on Friday and games begin the following morning.

Organisers are also offering coaching clinics in the build-up to the event and should you wish to get involved there is still time to volunteer.

Rory doing his Best to promote the game

Rory Best chats to the Emerald Warriors ahead of the Union Cup in Dublin

“Irish captain Rory Best took a training session with the Emerald Warriors on Tuesday,” says Head of Communications, Emily Cramp. “We’ve been inundated with requests for coverage and there has been immense support from everywhere. Particularly within the rugby community.”

As well as rugby there is plenty of fun to be had over the three days. On Saturday, tournament goers will be treated to An Evening with The Outing Festival which includes Blind Date, DJs and ‘traditional’ Irish Dancing. With a closing ceremony to be held in the city centre on Sunday this is sure to be a weekend to remember.

“It is very important because people are allowed to be themselves and play the game they love,” says International Referee, Nigel Owens. “Maybe they are at a stage where they feel they can’t play the game in another environment, so this allows them to enjoy the great sport of rugby. It also shows how much rugby has moved forward as far as inclusiveness goes.”

Canadian High School’s “amazing experience” on Rugby Tour to Ireland

Last month Strathcona Girls High School Under 18s Rugby Team spent nine glorious days on a rugby tour to Ireland. The team from Alberta are a major player in Canadian High School Rugby and we were delighted to look after them during their Irish rugby tour.

“The girls had an amazing time and I’ve heard nothing but good words,” said Head Coach, Kara Haslam. “They came home with huge smiles and lots of stories of a great experience and happy memories.”

 Canadian High School rugby tour to Ireland

The Canadian School’s itinerary was packed with both rugby and non-rugby activities and showcased Ireland as a place for people with a wide variety of interests. With the help of our partners we were able to balance the team’s pursuit of all things Irish rugby and sport with the students’ interest in culture and history.

Strathcona High had three matches against top class teams; St Mary’s RFC in Munster, Ashbourne RFC and Wexford Wanderers in Leinster. They also had three training sessions with former rugby internationals and coaches in Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

Action Packed Nine Days on Rugby Tour to Ireland


The team from Alberta were treated to a visit to Ireland’s largest stadium and the home of Hurling and Gaelic Football, Croke Park. They were later invited to try their the hand at the same games at the nearby Experience Gaelic Games in Glasnevin.

After a visit to Dublin Castle, the squad headed west to the home of the Irish language, The Aran Islands, before setting sail past the dramatic rock faces of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.

Strathcona Girls High School - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To Ireland

One of the highlights of the tour was a morning spent Kayaking on Britain and Ireland’s longest river the River Shannon in Limerick. There was too a visit to Bunratty Castle and Heritage Centre where the team learnt all about life in ancient Ireland.

The squad spent a night under the twinkling hilly lights of Cork City before travelling to the sunny Southeast and the spectacular Curacloe Beach, famous for the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and the more recent Oscar-nominated movie Brooklyn.

Strathcona Girls High School - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To Ireland

“As a trip leader and head coach, this was my first time planning an international rugby tour for high school students,” said Kara. “I would definitely travel with Irish Rugby Tours again in the future and plan to recommend Irish Rugby Tours to other club and school groups. Thank you for a fantastic experience.”

About Irish Rugby Tours

Irish Rugby Tours is based in the heart of Munster. The company has been organising and hosting both Irish and international rugby tour groups for over sixteen years. In that time, it has built strong and trusted relationships with rugby communities, rugby coaches, activity and accommodation providers across Ireland, the UK, continental Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Virginia University WRFC return from “Incredible” Rugby Tour to Ireland

A Rugby Tour to Ireland that “surpassed…expectations”

Virginia University Women’s Rugby Football Club, a powerhouse of USA rugby, have just returned from their “incredible” rugby tour to Ireland. The tour, which Head Coach Nancy Kechner described as having “surpassed…expectations”, was organised by Ireland’s most experienced rugby tours specialists Irish Rugby Tours.

On their nine-day rugby tour to Ireland, the 28-strong squad played two matches. A tough contest in Dublin against Suttonians was followed by a game in Galway against the mighty Irish province Connacht. The games proved invaluable in terms of experience and offered the team priceless insight into how two of the best teams and players in the British Isles approach the game.  

Virginia WRFC at the Aviva Stadium on their Irish Rugby Tour

Top Class Coaching

As well as game time against top opposition, the team were given three training sessions with former Irish rugby internationals and coaches.

Over its sixteen years in business, Irish Rugby Tours has developed and refined its relationships with the finest exponents of the game in Ireland. We deal with only the best minds in the business.

The squad were also treated to a visit to the home of Irish rugby, The Aviva Stadium, and witnessed a stunning Six-Nations international victory for Ireland over France.

During their time in Dublin the group paid a visit to Oscar Wilde’s Alma Mater, Trinity College Dublin, host of the world-famous Book of Kells.

After a great night out in the Galway, the City of the Tribes, the team drove The Wild Atlantic Way through the lunar like landscapes of UNESCO World Heritage site, The Burren, before reaching the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Picture of rugby tour to Ireland

Virginia WRFC leaping for a lineout against Connacht on their rugby tour to Ireland

“We had the most incredible experience on our tour,” says Nancy Kechner, Head Coach Virginia University WRFC. “Great competition,  great outings, and great value all around. Irish Rugby Tours did an incredible job. In particular, our guide, Michelle, and driver, Ian, went out of their way to make the trip for us.”

Picture of training session on a rugby tour to Ireland

Virginia WRFC gather round after a training session on their rugby tour to Ireland


Irish Rugby Tours & United States Rugby

Irish Rugby Tours has been organising and hosting both Irish and international rugby tour groups for over sixteen years. In that time, it has built strong and trusted relationships with rugby communities, rugby coaches, activity and accommodation providers across Ireland, the UK, continental Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Our history with USA Rugby goes all the way back to 1987, when our chairman was one of the head coaches to the USA Eagles prior to the first World Cup in New Zealand. He was also the first head coach of the Irish Women’s Rugby Team.

Irish Rugby Tours has strong connection with USA Women’s Rugby. We work with the US team during the Women’s World Cup as well as high school, club and college teams on their first trip abroad. This experience has given us a keen understanding of the needs of teams and their coaches.


7 things you (maybe) didn’t know about Sevens

Shorter game times, less set pieces and more fluid, free flowing rugby have meant that for many sevens has a broader appeal than the fifteen-a-side game. Purists may slate is as something of a modern gimmick; a symptom of late twentieth century impatience. But sevens, or seven-a-side rugby, has a long and proud history that stands up when compared to its more eminent cousin.

With the sports greatest competition, the Hong Kong Sevens, set to kick off this weekend, we give you seven things you (maybe) don’t know about sevens.

Sevens is old…

OK so it might not be as old as the game allegedly conceived by William Webb-Ellis but Rugby sevens is till pretty old. Sevens was dreamed up by two butchers from Melrose in Scotland. In 1883, Ned Haig and David Sanderson, put together a fund-raising event for their local club, Melrose Rugby Football Club and sevens rugby was born.

Ireland missed out on a (kind of) World Cup…

The first-ever officially sanctioned tournament for national teams was the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament held at Murrayfield. Although it is not officially recognised as being a World Cup, there was a tacit acceptance that it was. Eight teams took part in two pools of four. Pool toppers, England and Ireland contested the final. In injury time, and with Ireland leading 18-16, KEith Fielding latched onto a loose pass and ran the length of the pitch before touching down to win the tournament.

Ireland at last year’s World Cup in San Francisco. Pic: Inpho/Billy Stickland

World Cup

The first official Sevens World Cup was held in Melrose in 1993. There have been seven tournaments since then. New Zealand have won three of those, Fiji have the won the tournament twice while both England and Wales have won the trophy once.


Find out more about our Rugby Tours to Spain


Hong Kong Sevens

Many argue that the Hong Kong Sevens tournament did much to modernise rugby. Started in 1976, it was the first rugby tournament to attract corporate sponsorship. It also gave the gave a much needed dose of glamour and in many respects internationalised the game of rugby. It is still the showcase tournament of Rugby Sevens and this weekend it promises to be greater than ever.

Hong Kong Sevens


In 2016, Rugby Sevens made it to the Olympics in Rio. In the men’s competition, Fiji won the gold medal, Great Britain took silver while South Africa won bronze. The women’s gold medal was won by Australia, with New Zealand taking silver and Canada bronze.

Marika Vunibaka

Vunibaka, now forty-four, is the top try in World Cup with 23 tries. The Fijian was top scorer in 1997 when his country claimed their first World Cup. He also appeared in 2001 and popped up again to wreak havoc on defences when Fiji were crowned champions for the second time in 2005.

Some of the rules are a bit funny

Well it is a different sport after all and the whole point of the game is attack, entertainment and speed. Each half is just seven minutes long but usually stretches out to ten as tournaments reach their grand finales. HAlf time breaks are just two minutes long and with only five substitutes allowed you can be sure that everyone is duly knackered by the end of the day. Conversions are always drop goals and you only have thirty seconds in which to knock them over. Another curiosity about the sevens game is the rule that the team who has just scored restarts the game thus handing the impetus back to their opponent.


It’s a funny old game


Would you like to find out more about taking your team to play in a Sevens Tournament? If the answer is yes, please get in touch with us at Irish Rugby Tours. 



Three Things Irish Rugby Gave the World

For a small nation, Ireland punches well above its weight on the global stage. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Whether its music or literature, cinema or stage, you will find little nuggets of green gold at the bottom of all of life’s many rainbows. Rugby is no different, and we thought we’d look at three rugby phenomena, terms, phrases, call them what you will, that the Irish have given to the greatest sport on earth.

The Garryowen

Perhaps the most famous linguistic  gift we have given the game is the term garryowen. In its basic form, the high up and under kick is designed to put the opposing team under pressure, by allowing the kicking team time to arrive under it and compete for the high ball. The term comes from the Irish club of the same name,  Garryowen RFC, who are based in Limerick. The club has been on the go since 1884. Legend has it that the term became part of the rugby landscape when the club won a hat-trick of Senior Cup titles between from 1924 to 1926 and made the garryowen an integral part of its tactics. It must have been frightening!

Garryowen’s Conor Murray in 2009
©INPHO/James Crombie

The Choke Tackle

The choke tackle to the world via Ireland’s defence coach, Les Kiss, in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup. Rule changes had decreed that the side taking the ball into a maul and not emerging with it would lose it. The change in the law was duly noted by Kiss who saw an opportunity to exploit it. IN his mind there was little point getting the ball carrier to the ground and trying to turn the ball over when you could hold the same player up, stop him from moving and win your team the ball. It caused something of a seismic shift in rugby and became something of a trademark for Irish rugby teams. That was until others began to use it. Still, we’ll chalk it up as one of our ideas.

Stephen Ferris in 2011.

The 99 

Definitely not an ice-cream and one that harks back to a somewhat rougher times in the sport’s history. During the controversial 1974 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, captain, Willie John McBride came up with an odd call. It wasn’t a move or a line out code but was something of a call to arms. The tour was marred by violence with more boxing than box kicks and fisty-cuffs than fly-half flare. The 99 ball was allegedly based on the emergency telephone number 999 and the concept was simple – when there was a fight and the 99 ball was called, every Lions player on the pitch was expected to dive in and take part.  Rather than causing any actual physical harm, the point of the call was more to obfuscate the referee’s view and therefore discourage him from sending any one individual from the pitch……so were told anyway.

Willie John McBride in 1974



Get your Bunnies ready for an Egg Chucking Easter Rugby Festival Abroad!

At Irish Rugby Tours we know that Easter is a great time to hop on a plane and spend some time with the people you love most. That’s right – YOUR RUGBY TEAM!

There is a colourful array of  Easter rugby festivals and tournaments taking place right across Europe over the coming break and each of them have their own unique characteristics and surprises.

Irish Rugby Tours offers tours to great venues in fabulous cities right across Europe. These festivals book out quickly. So if you’re thinking of taking your team abroad, here are few suggestions for you. Let us know, when you need our help.

Portugal Rugby Festival – Lisbon

Portugal Rugby Festival in sunny Lisbon takes place this year from April 13th – 14th. It is a whirlwind cracking weekend of rugby fun across fifty pitches and gives you and your team the opportunity to meet rugby fans from other parts of Europe. It is a trip you are unlikely to forget in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

Players at last year’s event in Lisbon

Find out more & feel free get in touch

Find out more about rugby in Portugal

Tournoi de Cornouaille – Brittany

It’s selling out fast but there are still a few places left at this year’s Tournoi de Cornouaille in Quimper in Brittany. The tournament itself takes place over two days at Easter. Included in this great value package are hot lunches, player snacks and an end of festival party for those who took part. And it’s all happening right in the heart of the beautiful town of Quimper.

Find out more & feel free to get in touch

The beautiful town of Quimper has some excellent local restaurants.

Ghent Rugby Festival – Ghent

When you think of rugby, Belgium may not be the first place that springs to mind yet they have a strong tradition of playing the game in their part of the world. Indeed one of rugby’s longest running festivals takes place in the beautiful city of Ghent. The Ghent Easter Rugby Festival is now in its 31st year and each year it gets bigger and better with more teams, more food stalls and more entertainment. Ghent itself is a stunning city to walk around and enjoy some much needed downtime.  

Find out more & feel free to get in touch

Hilversum Rugby Festival – Amsterdam

If there were prizes going for inclusivity and family friendliness then surely this delightful festival one at Hilversum would be up there. This one day event takes place at Hilversum Rugby Club, a thirty-five minute drive from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and just forty minutes from central Amsterdam.

A wonderful one day festival that encourages rugby from children as young as eight up to sixteen, the festival will, this year, take place on April 21st.

After a hard day on the pitch, Amsterdam is the perfect city to visit to wind down. Its canals, cobbled streets and exceptional galleries are true jewels of Europe as are the people themselves.

Find out more & feel free to get in touch

Half-time talk at Hilversum.

International SQY Festival – Paris

If you fancy springtime in Paris then maybe the International SQY Rugby Festival is the very trip you have been looking for. This year’s event takes place on 19th – 21st April 2019 and includes an awards ceremony and gala dinner for team managers. The tour also includes a transfer to Paris for a boat trip down the Seine and there is the chance of taking in some Top 14 rugby while there.

It is a a fully immersive rugby weekend for ages 10 -14 and might just be the very trip that builds dreams of being an international star!

Find out more & feel free to get in touch



A Lobster, Hogg & Front Row Forward Walk into a Bar

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




Scrummy Spain a Great Place for Rugby

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 http://www.ferugby.es/ 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.

Rugby Tours to Portugal – Building Bonds on Beaches & in Bodegas

Irish Rugby Tours has a long and proud history of bringing rugby tours to Portugal. Both our Lisbon base and our base at Faro in the Algarve are favourites with groups who are looking for somewhere a little off beaten track.

Why choose Portugal for a rugby tour?

For teams facing into lengthy spells of training in the mud baths and biting wind of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, trips to the sunnier winter climes of Portugal are hugely beneficial.

Not only can teams perfect the nuances of their game plan and hone their skills, taking a trip abroad with your teammates inevitably leads to a degree of bonding they just do not get at home. Bringing your team abroad, exposes them to different cultures, different food and different ways of doing things that they may not see at home.

Facilities at our training camps in Portugal are second to none and as always we have done our homework on local teams so we can provide you with top quality opposition should you be on the lookout for some real game time. The Portuguese Rugby Federation has over 42,000 registered on its books with scores of clubs and teams of all levels spread across the country.

***TOP TOUR***

The Portugal Rugby Youth Festival runs from the 13th April – 14th April. The festival is located at the Lisbon University Stadium with easy access to and from hotels, hostels and campuses in the city. As a special treat, this trip is something really worth considering. Not only will it give your youth team a chance to play in an international tournament, it will also give them a chance to see one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and meet other rugby players from across the continent.

Is rugby popular in Portugal?

Rugby in Portugal is on the rise. Arguably, the national team’s golden period was just over ten years ago when they qualified for their first and so far only World Cup in 2007. Os Lobos (The Wolves) had a bit of a howler against the All Blacks, losing 108 – 13. They took something of a drubbing from the Scots (56 – 10). Against Italy they fared a little better (31 – 5) and they gave tournament veterans Romania a right scare losing out to a try on the 72nd minute (14-10).

Since reaching the heady heights of 13th in the world rankings their star has fallen somewhat in recent years. The Wolves are now ranked 27th in the world – four places down from their last ranking and six places behind their arch rivals and neighbours Spain.

Who are Portugal’s best rugby players?

Second row Goncalo Uva has been capped by Portugal 101 times. He has scored nine tries and is one of the few members from the current squad to play at a World Cup. The 6’7” lineout specialist is a tireless worker around the pitch. He currently plies his trade back home in Lisbon with 11- time Portuguese champions Grupo Desportivo Direito but he had long spells in France with both Montpellier and Narbonne. Goncalo’s brother, Vasco, has also played for Portugal 101 times.

Check out this piece of skill from Goncalo Uva…

As well as sunshine to play in, empty beaches to practise on and great facilities for training, there is so much to do and see in your downtime. 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.


About Irish Rugby Tours

Irish Rugby Tours is the go to tour company for your team. We have been planning, organising and delivering incoming rugby tours to and from Ireland, Europe and further afield since 1997. Our tours combine rugby, culture and travel to provide you with some of the best life experiences you are likely to have as a team. We don’t just build itineraries, we build memories, great ones that you will share for years to come.

Whether you are part of a club, college or school team, we can arrange customised sports tours for you in Ireland or abroad.

We have unrivalled experience and expertise in designing and facilitating customised tours. Over the last twenty plus years, we have brought more than 1500 teams to Ireland to experience its passion for both rugby and showing people a good time.

Every sports tour is designed to meet your requirements. If you want rugby, we will match you with carefully selected opposition you can compete against at your level. We also know that tour groups like to have fun. If you want to party, we know where you can do that too.

Let us know what you want on your tour and we will deliver.

Having flown to Ireland you don’t want to miss any sports fixtures – our on the ground team work hard to ensure you get your full complement of games whatever challenge comes our way.

Why Choose Irish Rugby Tours for your next Tour:

  • All our staff are rugby mad and have been involved in rugby all their lives.
  • We have worked in the hospitality industry at all levels – we know what works.
  • Irish Rugby Tours look after professional teams – both club and international.
  • We are a sports tour company and always have been.
  • Great value & tailored to your needs.
  • Irish Rugby Tours source the best standard accommodation, transport and all other service providers.
  • You can contact us 24/7, 365 days of the year.