Jump to main content


Research Results Show Growing Popularity Of Rugby

Research Results Show Growing Popularity Of Rugby

Rugby has taken a firm hold of the hearts and minds of the Irish public, according to Pembroke Communication’s recent analysis of attitudes to Irish sport and the preferences amongst the population.

The recent successes of both the Ireland senior team and the provinces has propelled rugby from what was perceived as a minority and somewhat elitist sport into the mainstream and firmly into the hearts of the Irish general public.

Irish rugby is currently blessed with outstanding once in a lifetime sportsmen like Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell who have both captained the Lions. Neither courts controversy and both have impeccable public personas which underpin their popularity.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Revealing the work of some recent research, Pembroke Communications director Michael O’Keeffe said: “Rugby has been superbly marketed at international level and both Munster and Leinster have both developed a mass following and a ‘brand identity’ through concerted marketing campaigns. Ulster are not far behind.

“Rugby at provincial level is organised professionally, marketed professionally and played by professionals. This makes a huge difference.

“One of the explanations why our current rugby heroes are so popular may be down to the fact that O’Driscoll and O’Connell are seen as national heroes rather than local ones and have proven themselves to be amongst the best in the world.

“In contrast, the GAA is built on local rivalries and GAA stars do not seem to fully transcend county boundaries.”


When questioned, over 70% of Irish people believe that the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2009 was Ireland winning a first Grand Slam since 1948.

This was considerably ahead of any other sporting feat of the last year, with Leinster’s breakthrough Heineken Cup success ranked second at 5.9% and Kilkenny’s four in-a-row hurling success at 5.1% – the same figure that voted for Shane Lowry’s Irish Open win and Ireland’s unbeaten World Cup soccer campaign.

When it came to who we thought was our greatest current Irish sports star, rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll was miles out in front of his nearest rival with 34.8% of people picking the Leinster star from a celebrated and decorated list.

Major-winning golfer Padraig Harrington was in second place on 19.3% with female boxing sensation Katie Taylor in third place.

Munster and Ireland’s Paul O’Connell was in fourth place on 8% during his year as Lions captain and inspirational second row during a Six Nations campaign.

Unsurprisingly, due to its dramatic and history-making nature, over 60% of those questioned put Ronan O’Gara’s winning drop goal against Wales in Cardiff as the single most iconic sporting moment of 2009 with Brian O’Driscoll’s runaway try against Munster in the Heineken cup semi-final in second place.

Tadhg Kennelly’s post match celebratory jig after Kerry’s All-Ireland victory came in third place on 6.9% as a moment that stuck in the public’s consciousness.

Pembroke Communications conducted research amongst 600 Irish adults during the period from October 16 to November 2, 2009.

Research results were gathered from of a mix of online responses and face-to-face interviews. There was an almost 50-50 male-female split of respondents (49-51).