10 best rugby pubs in Dublin

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Nicola BradyNicola Brady is a travel writer based in Dublin. She writes regularly for the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and Condé Nast Traveller, and has contributed to books on Dublin and Ireland for DK Eyewitness.
Media captionCheer on your team at the city's best rugby pubs.
Different rugby flags hung above the bar in Doheny and Nesbitt.
Media captionCheer on your team at the city's best rugby pubs.

From the kick off of the Six Nations to the European Rugby Championships and the Rugby World Cup, rugby fans across the country flock to the capital to attend matches and soak up the buzz on the streets during match day.

As the Irish team prepare to make a statement at this year’s Rugby Six Nations, fans of the sport will be scrambling to snag tickets to matches in the beloved Aviva Stadium and beyond, but even if you don't manage to be among the lucky few, it doesn't mean you need to miss out on the match day fun. Dublin is chock-a-block with pubs where you can cheer on your favourite players like O'Mahony, Gibson-Park and Porter - the atmosphere alone will make you forget you’re not actually at the game.

Here are some of the best spots to check out on match day in the city.

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Searsons, Baggot Street

Rugby is taken seriously in Searsons, with all Ireland and Leinster matches shown on big screens with surround sound. It’s a huge space, so there are plenty of good seats with a view of the TV, and they also have screens out in the beer garden. There’s a full menu of pub grub, so you can order a platter of chicken wings or a bacon cheeseburger to keep your strength up. Both the RDS and the Aviva are a 15-minute walk away, so there’s a bit of a post-match buzz in the pub as well.

Media captionCatch the next rugby match in Searsons.
Media credit@photrob

The Swan Bar, Aungier Street

There’s a long running rugby legacy in The Swan Bar. Once owned by former Ireland international player Sean Lynch (and now run by his son), this Victorian pub is filled with memorabilia, from framed jerseys to the Lions cap from his 1971 victory against the All Blacks. Rugby heritage aside, it’s a lovely pub in which to watch a match, with a regular crowd of local aficionados cheering on their favourites.

Media captionFind a seat at The Swan to watch the next rugby match.

The Bath, Bath Avenue

When you can’t get a ticket to the match, a pub right by the stadium is the next best thing. The Bath pub is just around the corner from the Aviva, so you can hear the roar from the crowd when you’re standing out in the courtyard. Large TV screens carry all the big games, but the real atmosphere comes when the final whistle blows, and the fans spill out of the stadium and many of them find their way here for a post-game pint.

Toners, Baggot Street

There’s always a raucous energy when the rugby is on in Toners, with fans crowded around the screens inside and out in the heated beer garden at the back. It’s also a popular spot with visiting teams – players from the Fiji and USA squads have called in for a pint when playing in Dublin. If you get peckish, you can bring in a pizza from Cirillo’s next door, cooked in an oven imported from Naples.

Media captionWatch the rugby matches in Toner's.

The Blackrock

When it comes to rugby cred, The Blackrock takes some beating. The pub is co-owned by rugby legends Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, and the Kearney brothers, Rob and Dave (who also own The Bridge 1859 and Lemon & Duke). The lads have opted for a more sophisticated ambience than a straight-up sports bar: the brunch menu offers eggs benedict and French toast for earlier matches, then chowder, steaks and gorgeous roasts for afternoon throw-ins. And if the quality grub wasn’t enough, you can win big prizes during their match day giveaways, including tickets to games.

Media captionDig into a delicious meal while you watch the rugby match in The Blackrock.
Media credit@the.blackrock

The Old Stand, Exchequer Street

As you might expect from a pub named after a now-demolished stand at the old Landsdowne Road rugby ground (now the Aviva stadium), The Old Stand is a match day favourite. It’s right in the heart of the city centre, so it draws both local supporters and visiting fans looking to make the most of their trip to Dublin. Watching sport can build up an appetite, so keep the menu handy: the club sandwich and fish and chips are good choices.

The Wool Shed, Parnell Street

At Australian sports bar The Wool Shed, all the big sporting events are shown on a giant screen, from Premier League football to Formula One. Rugby always gets top billing though, which might have something to do with the bar’s popularity with rugby-mad Aussies and Kiwis in the city. The screens are huge and there’s a lengthy menu of bar snacks, from buckets of chicken wings to platters of burger sliders.

Doheny & Nesbitt, Baggot Street

Always packed on match days, Doheny & Nesbitt’s devotion to the oval ball game borders on fanatical monotheism. No other sport can hold a candle to rugby here, where knowledgeable fans keep their eyes fixed on the screens and offer full-throated support to their heroes in Irish green and Leinster blue (and, when appropriate, Munster red). A fine collection of whiskies helps with celebrations, while the opening hours (9.30am on a Saturday) makes it a good spot for a hearty breakfast during those early morning games from the southern hemisphere.

Media captionJoin other rugby fans for match day in Doheny & Nesbitt.
Media credit@dohenyandnesbitt

The Hill, Ranelagh

With wrought iron fixtures over the bar, shelves filled with antique whiskey bottles and battered wooden floors, The Hill looks like a classic old pub. But on match days, rugby takes centre stage. There are several screens dotted throughout, so you have an unobstructed view from wherever you’re sitting. As well as all the usual names behind the bar, they have a great wine list and cocktail menu. They also serve decent coffee, if you need a pick-me-up between matches.

Media captionNo matter where you sit in The Hill, you'll have a great view of the rugby match.

The Camden, Camden Street

If you want your rugby watching experience to feel like a real live action event, The Camden is the place to be. This cavernous, multi-level sports bar is home to Europe’s largest indoor Samsung 4k screen, with people gathering either right up front or on the surrounding balconies to watch. It can get pretty spirited, but if you’d prefer a quieter corner there are over 80 other screens throughout the venue. You can also reserve tables in advance, which is handy for the big games.

Dublin’s cosiest pubs

When you’d rather have a quiet pint than watch a match, there are plenty of cosy pubs in Dublin that fit the bill.