This Saturday Wanderers will return to their spiritual home on Lansdowne Road by hosting the first ever Ulster Bank League match on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm).
Wanderers kick off their Division 2B campaign against Nenagh Ormond and in an effort to encourage club members and rugby supporters, admission to the ground for Saturday’s game is free of charge.
The opening round fixture will also be streamed live right here on www.IrishRugby.ie in what will be a momentous event for Wanderers and the Ulster Bank League.
Wanderers head coach Greg McWilliams spoke of the enthusiasm that has taken over at the club ahead of the game at the Aviva Stadium.
“We’re looking forward to the game immensely, playing on the main pitch at the Aviva is an event that a club player can only dream about,” he said.
“To be honest it is great for the club members too, we have not had a day in the sun for a number of years, so this is exciting and important to back up the hard work being done by a lot of club people behind the scenes.
“Our chairman of rugby Niall Crowley and director Rory MacMahon are working so hard on making Wanderers a better rugby product, and they are not alone. It’s rewarding for them too to see great positivity.”
He added: “Preparations are going well and you need that against a team like Nenagh who always start the league campaign strongly.
“They beat us last year and the season beforehand. They were one of the teams that came close to promotion last year only for a few minor slip-ups.
“So the fact that they’re still in the league tells you that they’ll be one of the teams in the league to beat. For us it’s going to be a big challenge, but one that the players can’t wait for.”
McWilliams is also encouraged by the IRFU’s decision to stream the game online and added that innovations like this can only be good for the club game.
“It’s really exciting. We have a New Zealand student, Josh Reeves, playing with us this year and he’s already told his family back home to watch it, I’m sure they will wonder about the standard of grounds in the Irish club game while watching it!
“We have a few guys up from the country too, who are studying in the Dublin, and their friends and family will be able to watch online, which is tremendous for the club game.
“It’s excellent for the Ulster Bank League, and all club rugby in Ireland. To have this sort of PR before the season starts, and to have the likes of Lansdowne playing Old Belvedere on Friday week under lights on the main pitch, it is what the club game needs.
“If we in the clubs can market the club game correctly, we can make it what we want to make it. The IRFU are focused on producing a better rugby product, and we should all be grateful for that,” he explained.
Spectators can enter through Gate O and while Nenagh are expected to bring a large travelling support, Wanderers would also like to welcome down new supporters to the game.
It will begin a great weekend of rugby in Dublin as the 2.30pm kick-off will suit those heading to Leinster’s RaboDirect PRO12 fixture with Aironi at 6pm at the RDS, just a short walk away from the Aviva Stadium.
In addition the club will also host a pre-match lunch (tel: (01) 2695272 to book) and the bar in the Wanderers Pavilion will be open before and after the match.
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