RDS Arena

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RDS Arena
Staid an Chumainn Ríoga Bhaile Átha Cliath
RDS Arena
2014 Pro12 final warmup.JPG
RDS Arena: the 2014 Pro12 Grand Final
RDS Arena is located in Dublin
RDS Arena
RDS Arena
Location within Dublin
LocationBallsbridge, Dublin, Ireland
Coordinates53°19′32″N 6°13′46″W / 53.32556°N 6.22944°W / 53.32556; -6.22944Coordinates: 53°19′32″N 6°13′46″W / 53.32556°N 6.22944°W / 53.32556; -6.22944
Public transitDART: Sandymount Station
Dublin Bus Routes: 4, 7, 7a, 7n, 18, 27x
Aircoach Route: 702 (Dublin Airport to Greystones/Bray)
Luas: Beechwood (Green Line; 2.3 km walk)
OwnerRoyal Dublin Society
Capacity18,500 (16,500 seated)
Record attendance22,000 (38,000 for a concert)
Leinster Rugby (2005–present)

RDS Arena is a multi-purpose sports stadium, owned by the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and located in the Dublin suburb of Ballsbridge, Ireland.

The arena was developed to host equestrian events, primarily the annual Dublin Horse Show, which was first held there in 1881. The site had been acquired in 1879 by the RDS. The primary tenants of the RDS Arena are Leinster Rugby who compete in the Pro14 and Champions Cup. The arena has also hosted soccer and wrestling events and concerts. It has a capacity of 18,500, 16,500 of which is seated.

The demountable north and south stands are removed for equestrian events, with only the Grandstand and Anglesea Stand permanent. The Anglesea Stand was completed in 1927.


The Grandstand was rebuilt in 2006 for the 2006–07 rugby season, to replace the old wooden stand when Leinster first became permanent tenants. A roof was added during 2008–09. There are plans to redevelop the Arena, replacing the Anglesea Stand with another new permanent stand, which would incorporate the only terraced area of the stadium.[1]

In July 2014, it was announced by the RDS and Leinster Rugby that a design competition was being held to develop the arena into a 25,000 capacity world class stadium, with work expected to commence on the redevelopment in April 2016.[2] The selling of naming rights to the arena will be a key component in funding the project, with a budget of at least €20,000,000 being proposed.[3] A consortium of architect firms, Dublin-based Newenham Mulligan Architects and London-based Grimshaw Architects, won the international design competition for the multimillion-euro redevelopment of the RDS Arena.[4]

Sporting events[edit]

Association Football[edit]

The Stadium first hosted a football game (as in soccer) on 30 September 1990 when Shamrock Rovers used it as a home ground. For the next six seasons until April 1996 Rovers played their home games there.[5] The Stadium held its first international match on 19 February 1992 when it played host to a home game between Ireland and Wales national football team. The stadium hosted some games of the 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championships including the third-place playoff and the final. The final of the FAI Cup was held at the RDS in 2007 and 2008 during the construction of the Aviva Stadium. The 2009 final, however, was moved to Tallaght Stadium. The RDS hosted a game between St Patrick's Athletic and Hertha Berlin in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup First round.[6] St Patrick's Athletic also played Steaua Bucureşti in the Arena on 27 August 2009 in the Europa League. The RDS Arena hosted the Ireland team when they played Paraguay and Algeria in May 2010.[7]

Show Jumping[edit]

RDS hosting the Dublin Horse Show

The Arena was originally constructed to host show-jumping events, the Dublin Horse Show has been held by the RDS annually since 1864.[8] In 1881 the Show moved to ‘Ball's Bridge', a greenfield site. The first continuous ‘leaping' course was introduced at the Show.[8] In the same year the first viewing stand was erected on the site of the present Grand Stand. It held 800 people.

In 1925 Colonel Zeigler of the Swiss Army first suggested holding an international jumping event. The Aga Khan of the time heard of this proposal and offered a challenge trophy to the winner of the competition. In 1926 International Competitions were introduced to the show and was the first time the Nations' Cup for the Aga Khan Challenge trophy was held.[8] Up until 1949 the Nations' Cup teams had to consist of military officers. Six countries competed in the first international teams competition for the Aga Khan Challenge trophy - Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Ireland. The Swiss team won the title on Irish bred horses.[8]

In 1976, after 50 years of international competition, the two grass banks in the Arena were removed so the Arena could be used for other events. The continental bank at the western end of the Main Arena was added later.[8]

The RDS also hosted the Show Jumping World Championships in 1982.

Rugby union[edit]

RDS Arena, home of Leinster Rugby

The stadium first opened its doors to rugby union on Saturday 15 October 2005, hosting a game between Leinster Rugby and the Cardiff Blues, which Leinster won 34–15, the arena hosted four further games that season. The following season, the RDS was not used by Leinster due to redevelopment.

The 2007–08 season saw the RDS become the official home of Leinster when the branch signed a 20-year lease on the ground, with all of the home games for the season to be hosted there. This change came about after it became apparent that the team's former home of Donnybrook Stadium no longer had a sufficient capacity. After renovation and expansion, the Grandstand and North and South Stands were expanded, boosting the capacity to 18,500 along with floodlights being installed and a new playing surface being laid, to withstand the demands of a full rugby season and show jumping events.

The RDS had proven to be a very successful hunting ground for Leinster, as they won 11 of their 12 home games that season, culminating on Saturday 3 May 2008 in a 41–8 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons and lifting the Celtic League trophy that day. In all, Leinster had played 18 games in the RDS, losing only twice, to Bath and Scarlets.

Between March 2008 and 2010, the final of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup was played in the RDS due to the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road, its traditional venue.

The RDS hosted the autumn rugby international between Ireland and Fiji on 21 November 2009.[9] Ireland were convincing winners on the day.

The stadium also hosted the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Pro12 Grand Finals and the 2013 Challenge Cup Final between Leinster and Stade Français, which saw a sell-out crowd of 20,396 people.

Inside the RDS Arena prior to a Leinster Game


The Arena hosted a WWE event on 18 June 2005, part of the WWE Summerbash Tour, which featured Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin.[10]


Prince played the venue on June 13, 1992 as part of his Diamonds and Pearls Tour

Boyzone played at the arena in 1999 and once again in their reunion in 2008.

Bruce Springsteen played 11 times at the arena. His first show was during the Tunnel of Love Express Tour in 1988 in front of 42 000 fans, the second one in 1993 during the Bruce Springsteen 1992-1993 World Tour and then during the Reunion Tour and The Rising Tour in 1999 and 2003. He played three sold-out shows during the Magic Tour in 2008 in front of more than 115,000 people, and then in 2009 during the Working on a Dream Tour his two concerts at the arena sold more than 80,000 tickets. He played again in 2012 during his Wrecking Ball World Tour for 76,000 people.

U2 played here on 27 and 28 August 1993 as conclusion to the Zooropa tour, the European stadium leg of the ZooTV tour which supported the album Achtung Baby. The second show was broadcast internationally on the radio, being 15–20 minutes delayed, reportedly due to the band's generosity to the playing time of their opening bands (Scary Eire and Stereo MC's). During the opening number Zoo Station on this night, Bono altered a lyric to say "Hey child, it's alright, sleeping in my own bed tonight."

Guns N' Roses played at the venue on June 9, 2006, as part of their Chinese Democracy Tour.

Michael Jackson also played his HIStory World Tour concert on 19 July 1997 in here in front of more than 43 000 people.

Bon Jovi have played the venue many times. They played over two nights in June 2011 to over 80,000 people.

Thin Lizzy played RDS Area April 9 and 10th 1983 on Thunder and Lighting tour .

Metallica, Alice In Chains and Avenged Sevenfold played at the venue on June 11, 2006.

Radiohead played to 38,000 people, on 20 June 1997, which was their highest attended performance at the time.

Paul McCartney played there on his "Up and Coming Tour" on 12 June 2010 and was host to him, due to a fireworks display that couldn't be done in an indoor arena, such as the O2 Arena, which hosted his "Good Evening Europe Tour" on 22 December 2009.

Tina Turner played to 40,000 people here on her "Twenty Four Seven Tour" on 11 July 2000; Foreign Affair: The Farewell Tour on 27–29 October 1990; Break Every Rule World Tour on 30 May 1987.

The Eagles played their Hell Freezes Over tour on July 6, 1996.

Simple Minds played the RDS on their Street Fighting Years tour, 19 August 1989.

Shania Twain performed there on 10 July 1999 as part of her Come On Over Tour.

P!nk performed at the venue on 19 June 2010 during The Funhouse Summer Carnival and again on June 18, 2019 as part of her Beautiful Trauma World Tour.

Justin Bieber played here as part of his Purpose World Tour on 21 June 2017.

Iron Maiden performed at the RDS during their Early Days tour in 2005 to a crowd of over 35 thousand, supported by Turbonegro and Marilyn Manson, the first time the latter had been allowed to play in Ireland.

Fleetwood Mac played at the RDS as part of their An Evening with Fleetwood Mac tour on June 13, 2019.

Religious Gatherings[edit]

The Arena was the principal venue for the 50th International Catholic Eucharistic Congress held 10–17 June 2012.[11] Eucharistic Congresses are held generally every four years in various places around the world to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, to help improve the understanding and celebration of the liturgy and to draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.[12][13] Expected attendance was 10,000-20,000 persons each day, with up to 80,000 at the closing Mass in Croke Park on 17 June.[14][15] A Congress was last held in Ireland in 1932.


  1. ^ http://www.leinsterrugby.ie/olsc/6278.php
  2. ^ http://www.leinsterrugby.ie/news/12157.php#.U_xnJ2O9aFE
  3. ^ https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/leinster-rugby-announces-winner-of-rds-arena-design-competition-1.2085414
  4. ^ http://www.rds.ie/index.jsp?p=106&n=697#sthash.DL9EMhKi.dpuf Archived 18 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "A Brief History of Shamrock Rovers". Goggins, Robert. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  6. ^ StPatsFC.com – Match Report
  7. ^ "Ireland to face Paraguay and Algeria". Football Association of Ireland. 14 February 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e http://dublinhorseshow.com/history/dublin-horse-show-history
  9. ^ Watterson, Johnny (16 May 2009). "RDS to host Fiji for debut on international rugby stage". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  10. ^ http://www.mopsquad.com/artman2/publish/WWE_Recaps_24/WWE_SmackDown_House_Show_-_June_18th_2005_2825.htm
  11. ^ "Venues". IEC2010 Website. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  12. ^ "What is a Eucharistic Congress". IEC2010 Website. Archived from the original on 21 May 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Momentous Occasion". IEC2010 Website. Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  14. ^ O'Connell, Edel (11 June 2012). "Attendance". Independent.ie Website. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Attendance". Herald.ie Website. Retrieved 16 June 2012.