View of east stand after redevelopment
|Public transit||Limerick railway station
Ballynanty Road bus stop
|Owner||Irish Rugby Football Union|
|Capacity||26,200 (15,100 seated)|
UL Bohemian RFC
Limerick FC (2013-15)
Thomond Park is a stadium in Limerick in the Irish province of Munster. The stadium is owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union and counts Munster Rugby, Shannon RFC and UL Bohemian RFC as tenants. Limerick FC played home games in Thomond Park from 2013 to 2015 in the League of Ireland while the Markets Field was being redeveloped. The capacity of the stadium is 25,630 following its large-scale redevelopment in 2008.
The stadium holds a special place in rugby due to its own unique history and atmosphere. The stadium is famed for its noise during play and the complete silence while home and away players are kicking for goal. Munster also retained an intimidating 12-year unbeaten run at Thomond in the Heineken Cup—running from the competition's start in 1995 until 2007 when the Leicester Tigers broke the streak with a 13–6 win. It is at Thomond park that Munster celebrated their 12–0 victory over the All Blacks in 1978.
Thomond Park (named after the medieval kingdom of Thomond) originally consisted of two pitches, the main pitch and a training pitch. The main pitch was bounded on all sides by terracing with a stand above the west terrace. The training pitch was behind the west stand with the Shannon R.F.C. pavilion in the southwest corner of the ground. The UL Bohemian R.F.C. pavilion was within the west stand.
Traditionally, the former terracing and four sides of the pitch had local nicknames, however they have since fallen out of local parlance. The most famous of these was the east terrace, which was known among fans as the "Popular side", this sat opposite the "Stand side", joining the "City End" (South Terrace) with the "Ballynanty End" (North Terrace). The "Popular side" gained notoriety in local rugby folklore for the colourful comments that can be heard emanating from local wags and alickadoos in the direction of the pitch, occasionally drawing reaction from players and officials, to the amusement of other attendants.
The highest pre-redevelopment official attendance in Thomond Park was 18,000 people and occurred in 1992 in a local derby in the All-Ireland League between clubs Shannon RFC and Garryowen FC. Munster's average league attendance for the 2013–14 Pro12 season was 12,334
In 1998 and 1999, following the introduction of the professional era, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) spent several million pounds on floodlighting, terracing, toilets, medical facilities and a new pitch for the ground. In January 2006, the Munster Branch of the IRFU made offers to buy some adjacent houses to expand the stadium. In March 2006 the IRFU and Munster Rugby announced that Thomond Park was unanimously selected for the site of the branch's new stadium, and in May 2006 the design for the re-development was unveiled. Work started in early 2007, and the project was completed for a re-opening in Autumn 2008.
It was thought that Thomond Park would be renamed in a sponsorship deal, following its redevelopment. However, it was confirmed in February 2008 that the name Thomond Park would remain the same, with naming rights being sold for the individual stands instead.
Thomond Park is well known for its atmosphere. During a rugby match, the home fans can be heard singing songs such as "The Fields of Athenry" and "Stand Up aAnd Fight". These two songs play a vital role in Munster rugby as they are Munster's anthems. Donal Spring, one of the heroes of 1978, credits the spectators for its unique ethos: "What's so special about Thomond Park? The crowd. Simply the crowd. The atmosphere is electric. Of all the places I've played, playing with Munster at Thomond Park is what I’ve enjoyed most."
The home crowd is also famous for its silence when a team's kicker is kicking for goal. This has been known to put the away team's kicker off, although it is done out of respect.
In August 2013 Thomond Park was awarded the title of 'Best Rugby Stadium in the World' following a vote by rugby supporters across the globe.
Thomond Park has hosted five Ireland internationals. The results are as follows:
|Date||Opponents||Final score||Part of|
|19 March 1898||Wales||3 – 11||1898 Home Nations Championship|
|7 September 2002||Romania||39 – 8||Friendly|
|30 August 2003||Italy||61 – 6||Friendly (warm up for 2003 Rugby World Cup)|
|8 November 2008||Canada||55 – 0||Friendly|
|17 November 2012||Fiji||53 – 0||Guinness Autumn International Series|
Other sporting fixtures
Limerick F.C. played all their Airtricity League Premier League home fixtures for the 2013 season at Thomond Park.
The Republic of Ireland national football team played two international friendlies in Thomond during the construction of the Aviva Stadium. The first, on 12 August 2009 against Australia drew a crowd just above 19,000. Australia won 3–0. Ireland played and defeated South Africa 1–0 at Thomond on 8 September 2009 to a crowd of 11,300.
On 5 November 2011, the stadium hosted its first Rugby League game when Ireland took on France.
- Elton John – 6 June 2009
- Rod Stewart – 4 July 2009
- P!nk with guest Butch Walker – 20 June 2010 – Funhouse Summer Carnival Tour
- Bob Dylan with guests David Gray, Seasick Steve & Alabama 3 – 4 July 2010
- The Cranberries – 9 June 2010 (Special Olympics opening ceremony – their first performance in their native city for over 15 years)
- JLS - 26 June 2011 with guest Olly Murs - JLS Tour
- Bruce Springsteen – 16 July 2013 – Wrecking Ball Tour
The highest pre-redevelopment official attendance in Thomond Park came in 1992 when a local derby in the All-Ireland League between clubs Shannon RFC and Garryowen FC saw an attendance of 18,000 people. Munster's average league attendance for the 2014–15 Pro12 season was 13,179, the third highest in the league.
Notes and references
- "Ní rugbaí go Páirc Thuamhan!". smaointefanacha.blogspot.ie.
- "Féasta iontach rugbaí romhainn arís agus na cúigí réidh chun catha".
- "Thomond Park Developments". Munster Rugby. 21 June 2007. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "History of the IRFU". Irish Rugby Football Union. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Melville, Nigel (21 January 2004). "Fingers get burned when the home fire is stoked in Munster". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Michael Corcoran: Top 10". RTÉ News. 21 May 2008.[permanent dead link]
- "Man arrested in connection with Dundalk robbery". 29 October 2002.
- "Gatland must resist desire to change for the sake of it". Irish Independent. 24 March 1998. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012.
- Fanning, Brendan (2 December 2001). "Ireland's Holland okay for Munster". Irish Independent.
- "Home Attendance RaboDirect PRO12 13/14". Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Geraghty, Pat (21 June 2007). "Thomond Park Developments". Munster Rugby. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
- "Thomond Park set to be renamed". RTÉ News. 20 June 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008.
- European Rugby Cup : Thomond Park Name to Remain a Fixture in Europe
- Mulqueen, Charlie; O'Dowd, Brendan (2015). The Story of Thomond Park: Where Miracles Happen. Cork: The Collins Press. ISBN 9781848892552.
- "Thomond Park Stadium named best in the world". www.stadiadirectory.com. 7 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- The Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2012/0806/1224321572697.html. Missing or empty
- Limerick prepares to host Special Olympics. RTÉ. 9 June 2010.
- "Rugby League World Cup 2013 fixtures". RFL. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "Home Attendance RaboDirect PRO12 14/15". Retrieved 17 January 2016.