Leinster anticipate that a crowd of around 11,000 will be in attendance for tonight’s United Rugby Championship semi-final against the Bulls of South Africa.
hile it’s an improvement on the 9,346 in attendance at their quarter-final win over Glasgow Warriors, the attendance will fall short of the 18,500 capacity at the RDS and even the estimated 15,000 fans who made their way to Marseille to cheer on Leo Cullen’s side in their Champions Cup final loss to La Rochelle.
It appears the hangover from that defeat is being felt in the Leinster fan-base. Season tickets don’t cover post-season games, while the match is being broadcast free-to-air on TG4 and is part of a congested sporting calendar at this time of year.
Leinster are chasing a fifth URC title in a row and are heavy favourites against their South African visitors who face a big ask to take on what their coach Jake White described as “the best team in Europe” six days after they needed a last-gasp drop-goal to beat the Sharks in Pretoria.
“I’m a realist,” the 2007 World Cup-winning coach said.
“I’ve been coaching for 40 years and know you mustn’t get ahead of yourself. It’s not like the Leinster team and have landed here by default. This Leinster team are the benchmark. But that’s what makes sport so exciting.
“People follow teams because at some point there comes a result that people don’t expect and they can say I was there.
“Sport has that ability and it is different because there is always a chance and we will definitely give it a shot.”