The Magners League grand final between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park next Saturday (kick-off 5.05pm) will welcome the tournament’s millionth fan of the season.
Munster die-hard Paul Reals, who was born within a few hefty Ronan O’Gara punts of the famous Limerick ground, became the lucky winner of a special prize to recognise the 1,000,000 fan landmark and will go to the game in style.
His reward for taking tickets sales in the Magners League into seven figures for the first time is a hospitality ticket package and a visit to the centre of the pitch at half-time to receive a Magners League goody bag from Celtic Rugby chairman Andy Irvine.
“It was a huge thrill to be told I was the one millionth fan to buy a ticket to a Magners League match this season and the prospect of going onto the hallowed turf at half-time is awesome,” said Reals.
“I was born at St. Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital not far from the ground, and my dad owned one of the houses that were bought to build the new Thomond Park.
“Munster rugby is in the blood and I’ve been a season ticket holder for the past three years – with next season’s ticket already bought!
“I haven’t missed a home match this season and the Magners League grand final is going to be an extra special occasion. I was at the game when we were presented with the Celtic Cup in 2003 and then the Magners League title in 2009.”
He added: “The gloves always come off when Munster play Leinster and this is going to be one of the biggest games between the two teams for a few years. It is going to be a great occasion and I’m just pleased I got a ticket to go.”
The match has already been deemed a sell-out with Munster fans particularly eager to back their side as they look to end the season with a second league title in three years.
Added seating brings the capacity up to 26,100 for the interprovincial clash. Munster sales and marketing manager Glyn Billinghurst said: “They’ve (Munster fans) been criticised in some quarters in recent weeks, wrongly in my opinion, and have responded brilliantly.
“Their critics forget that over the course of three games recently, in the space of four weeks, nearly 57,000 turned up to support the team and now once again, despite the recessionary times we’re living in, they’re voting with their feet and their wallets.”