A HIGH profile website in Wales has ranked Thomond Park in the top ten rugby stadiums in the world.
Wales Online ranked the Limerick ground at number 10 in the world - ahead of Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium and Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
Journalist Anthony Woolford said Thomond was “the historic home of Irish side Munster, re-opened in 2008 with an increased capacity of 26,500 and an unrivalled history behind it.
“Famed for the imposing noise during play, but eerie silence while players kick for goal, its unique atmosphere led to a remarkable 12-year unbeaten run for the Irish region at the venue,” he wrote.
“Still not particularly known as flashy, the refurbishment hasn’t tempered the combative atmosphere on match day – and it is just a stone’s-throw away from the River Shannon in the centre of the town.”
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Welsh website listed Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium as the top rugby ground in the world, with Mr Woolford hailing it as “an intimidating arena with a capacity of 72,500 and is now the focal point of our historic capital.
“Its fearsome reputation helped seal historic Grand Slam wins in 2005, ‘08 and ‘12,” he wrote.
“Featuring a retractable roof, it is the biggest football stadium in the world with this feature. The only criticism has been levelled at the state of the pitch but that has been remedied with a new £3.1m hybrid surface.”
Auckland’s Eden Park - the historic home of All Blacks - is second on the list, while Johannesburg’s Ellis Park completes the top three.
There are honourable mentions also for Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and Buenos Aires’ Velez Sarsfield in the top ten, but their Belfast and Dublin equivalents only make it to 20 and 18 respectively.
Paul O’Connell’s new home of the Stade Felix Mayol, situated “rather idyllically, right in the heart of Toulon beside the busy Mediterranean harbour”, just shades the top 20, at 19 on the list.