10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The Thomond Park Re-Development Committee is delighted to unveil the design for the re-development of the Thomond Park rugby stadium.
The design has been created by Murray O'Laoire Architects of Limerick and Stadia Architects AFL and provides for a 26,000 capacity at one of Ireland's most famous rugby grounds, at the cost of 40 million.
It is envisaged that planning application will be lodged by July (2006) and it is hoped that the re-development programme can commence early in 2007. Completion is anticipated in 18 months, for a scheduled re-opening in autumn 2008.
The principal elements of the project will see the erection of two new stands adjacent to the existing main pitch, offering a seating capacity for 15,000 and terrace capacity of 11,000.
...An aerial view of the proposed new Thomond Park stadium...
Mr. Pat Whelan, Chairman of the Thomond Park Re-Development Committee, said: "We are delighted to unveil the new look concept for the re-development of Thomond Park. It represents a major project for Munster and Irish rugby. It is a significant addition to the sporting infrastructure of Limerick city and one which suitably complements Munster's proud image as one of the best supported teams anywhere in the game of rugby."
Mr. Ken Lyons, President of the Munster Branch IRFU, said: "There are very few rugby followers in the world who are not aware of the history and great traditions associated with rugby at Thomond Park. This wonderful re-development project is entirely fitting, more so in view of Munster's magnificent Heineken Cup victory last weekend, so that greater capacities in superior levels of comfort can be accommodated."
The Thomond Park ground, where Munster remain unbeaten in 11 years of European Cup competition and the scene for Munster's historic defeat of the touring All Blacks in 1978, was the unanimously favoured venue chosen by the Development Committee, following its consideration of the draft feasibility study conducted by ARUP Consulting Engineers into a number of sites in the Limerick area.
The Development Committee again wishes to express its gratitude to the residents of Knockalisheen Road, without whose co-operation the Thomond Park project might have been jeopardised. The Thomond Park Re-Development Committee also acknowledges the support of Limerick City Council and the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, through Minister John O'Donoghue T.D.
Speaking on behalf of AFL Architects, Mr. Richard Leng, Chairman, said: "The redesign of Thomond Park creates an opportunity to provide state of the art facilities for spectators, supporters and players in an environment where the unique atmosphere of Munster Rugby will be retained and intensified. Two sweeping arches of the new stands will ultimately become an image that everyone will associate with this famous rugby ground. New stands will also include new changing rooms for players, medical suite, executive boxes, banqueting facilities, club accommodation and supporters' bars."
Mr. Hugh Murray of Murray O'Laoire Architects, Limerick, said: "The new Thomond Park stands will enhance the legendary intensity of the 'Munster experience' by housing 15,000 fans as close to the pitch as possible and with great views of the action. They will be a powerful icon of the home of Munster Rugby for future generations and their distinctive curved forms will stand out as a proud new city landmark."