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.
Both the IRFU and the FAI were delighted when the GAA took the decision to open up Croke Park for the playing of competitive rugby and soccer internationals. It was a most generous gesture and both associations have acknowledged this.
At the time of making the gesture, the GAA made it quite clear that the agreement would only be for the period during which a new home for both Ireland's international rugby and soccer teams was being built at Lansdowne Road.
This was fully accepted by the IRFU and the FAI and indeed by the Government who are also major stakeholders in the new Aviva Stadium.
* The question of playing rugby and soccer internationals at Croke Park post the redevelopment was not on any agenda in 2005. It was fully understood that the GAA's generous gesture only extended for the period that the new stadium was being developed.
* It was on the premise presented to both the IRFU and FAI that Croke Park under no circumstances would be available to rugby and soccer after the completion of the Aviva Stadium, that the plans and financial models were created for the new stadium.
* Given that the Aviva Stadium provides most of the finance that drives the sports of rugby and soccer in Ireland, the best possible contracts to generate the maximum revenue were put in position in relation to all elements of the stadium.
* All of the contracts, including the naming rights, the catering contract, the pouring rights, box sales and premium seat sales, were done in the knowledge that all rugby and soccer internationals would be played in the new stadium from 2010 onwards.
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