Croke Park Stadium, Dublin 3, Ireland
Other sports Gaelic games, athletics, football, boxing
Time 02:20, Fri Dec 06, 2013 (UTC +0000)
Many years of resistance by the Gaelic Games Association to accepting "foreign" sports at their hallowed stadium, Croke Park in Dublin, ended in April 2005 when the GAA agreed to allow temporary use while Lansdowne Road was being knocked down and rebuilt.
The first rugby union international featured Ireland and France on February 11, 2007 when Les Bleus won 20-17 with a late try by Vincent Clerc. Many observers felt the emotion of the occasion had got to the Irish, and ultimately denied them a Grand Slam that Six Nations Championship season.
Two weekends later Ireland thrashed England 43-13. There was debate over how the singing of God Save the Queen would be greeted, partly due to the memories of the 1920 massacre by the British Black and Tans of 13 spectators and the Tipperary captain during a Gaelic football match. In fact it was most unlikely that a rugby crowd would receive the British national anthem poorly and the occasion went off peacefully if embarrassingly for England on the field.
The first football international followed in March 2007 when the Republic of Ireland played Wales and the crowd numbered 72,500. Different segregation and standing areas for rugby allow a capacity of 82,300; the record crowd on the ground was 90,556 for All-Ireland Senior [Gaelic] Football Final in 1961.
Visitors to Dublin arriving at the airport get a good view of the uniform sweeping stands of "Croker" as they drive in to the city. It has a horseshoe design, with the open Hill 16 terrace - hemmed in by residential streets behind it - rising to a lower level than the three sides of the grandstands. Muhammad Ali fought a non-title fight at Croke Park in 1972 and many pop and rock concerts have been staged there.