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Q & A With Leinster Rugby CEO, Mick Dawson

Q: Is there an update on the grandstand roof? Will there be any compensation for Season Ticket holders who purchased Grandstand tickets and held on to them in order to support Leinster? What was the cause of the delay?

A: Season ticket holders in the Grandstand will receive a discount for season tickets that they buy for season 2008/'09 as a recognition of sticking with us through this season. There will also be a drinks reception for Grandstand season ticket holders for the last match of the season against the Newport Gwent Dragons.

We have an agreement with the RDS whereby they agreed to provide us with a grandstand with a roof and for several reasons their application was late and then ran into planning difficulties. According to the RDS the roof is due to be finished on 21st March 2008.

I would like to apologise for any inconvenience and praise all our supporters for helping to make us one of the best supported sides in Europe.

Q: Why are people allowed to smoke in the ground / seated stands in front of bibbed stewards? The No Smoking policy is printed on the back of tickets and these inconsiderate people are hindering the enjoyment of matches. Can PA announcements be made or signs posted up?

A: Obviously the health and welfare of our supporters, young and old, is of primary importance and we have instructed our stewards that there is a strict no smoking policy in the ground. I think it is a good idea if the P.A. system keeps announcing this and this will be acted on.

Q: The Supporters Club Bar is a step forward, is it possible to get a proper enclosed bar? - The current set up is very basic with no seating or food and it is absolutely freezing on match days, as a result, many members prefer to use other hostelries outside the ground. The price of a pint is extortionate - does Leinster Rugby have any control over who is awarded the contract or the bar prices charged?

A: We are currently speaking to the RDS about upgrading the Supporters Club Bar and they are in agreement that something should be done and I would hope that for next season there will be a better facility.

Already we have added TV screens and it has been improved but there is more that can be done.

Leinster Rugby has no control over the price of the bars; the RDS is an event centre and they control the prices.

Q: Is it possible for teams and numbers which are currently read by the announcer about 20 minutes before the start of matches to be read again closer to the start of the game? I can't get to the ground that far in advance and therefore do not know the members of the opposing team. It seems the programmes are printed in advance of the teams being selected and therefore are of little use.

A: I think it is a good idea that the teams should be announced in the 10 minutes before they come onto the pitch and I agree that 20 minutes is too early. The teams, do not have to be announced until 12 o'clock the previous day and sometimes this is not enough time for the printers who would like to get the programmes into the grounds the day before the match to ensure that there is no hiccups or unavailability.

Therefore, there can be changes to the printed team because of injury or illness which we have little control over.

Q: Is there any plan to improve the big screens at the RDS�The North Stand Season Ticket holders have no real view of a big screen.

A: We have spoken to the RDS about improving the big screens and we are looking at the possibility of getting bigger screens for next season.

Q: I love the RDS, but please can something be done about the toilet facilities?

A: There will be an improvement in the toilets for the coming season. It is something, we realise, is not good enough and we have informed the RDS of same.

Q: What's being built under the south end of the Anglesea Stand? The view from the terrace is restricted by the pavilion roof, are there any plans to improve this in the future as, depending on your position, up to a third of the pitch can be completely obscured.

A: The building work you see under the Anglesea Stand is a changing room for the players. There will also be medical facilities and physio facilities within this new building. There are plans to improve the terraces on either side of the committee box. We understand that there is a viewing restriction and endeavour to improve this.

Q: What do you believe can be done to improve the match day experience for all who attend Leinster Rugby matches?

A: We believe the match day experience is very good at Leinster Rugby matches and we are always looking at ways to improve the match day. If there are any suggestions out there we would be delighted to hear them. E-mail the Marketing team on leinsternews@leinsterrugby.ie with any ideas.

Q: Do you think it would be beneficial to both Irish rugby and Leinster Rugby, and the Magners League as a competition to make qualification for the HEC based on League performances, regardless of country; instead of the current process that is in place?

A: I think making the Heineken Cup qualification based on the position in the Magners League would improve the competitiveness of the Magners League, but it is a very delicate political debate as there could be a possibility of some countries having no representation in the Heineken Cup which would go against what it is all about.

Q: Can tickets for the next game, be made available for sale at the RDS on match day? I went to buy a ticket for a friend to attend the Toulouse match at the Ospreys game and none were available. Will tickets be kept in booklet form or is the Ticketmaster "E-Ticketing" route being introduced? Will there be a "Loyalty System" put in place, when away tickets are in short supply will previous attendance be counted and rewarded? Season ticket packages were to include free text alerts. These were changed to a subscription service mid-season; Why was this, and why were Season Ticket holders not included free of charge? Would it be possible to have family tickets available to include 2 Adults and 3 Children as well as the existing 2 + 2? At present a family with 3 Children can only buy ST's in the unreserved section if they wish to sit together. On a return to Donnybrook, will the same number of season tickets be available?

A: I think it is a very good idea that tickets should be made available for sale in the RDS and this is something that we will definitely look at. However, as Ticketmaster sales vans have limited selling space and are split into ticket sales and Credit Card collections there is not sufficient space available to hold ticket stock for future games.

Season tickets will be printed in the same Ticket Book format that was adopted for the 2007/'08 season. E-ticketing is available as an option on Ticketmaster when purchasing tickets for individual matches, it is know as 'Ticketfast'.

We are currently in discussion with Ticketmaster in relation to how to individual track match day attendance of Season Ticket holders in order to facilitate this loyalty system and plans are in place to implement this next season.

A premium text service was introduced this season in addition to free text alerts included in the Season Ticket package. However, Season Ticket holders will continue to receive free text alerts throughout the season.

Our Season Ticket packages for 2008/'09 are currently under consideration. A 'mix and match' family ticket has been suggested during this season and will be examined for viability.

Due to the small capacity of Donnybrook, the Leinster senior squad are expected to continue to play home games in the RDS for the foreseeable future.

Q: There has been speculation about Eoin Reddan signing for Leinster - is this going to happen? I think he would be a huge addition to the squad. There was no "meet the players" evening, is this idea now defunct? I understand that Shane Horgan's contract is "up" is there progress on a new contract? Is there an update on a Coach for next season - will Michael Cheika be onboard?

A: We are trying to sign quality players all the time and I agree with you that Eoin Reddan would be a huge addition. He has decided to stay with his current club and we wish him well.

The meet the players evening is not defunct and one is scheduled to take place for Season Ticket holders next week. Details are up on http://www.leinsterrugby.ie

Although it is difficult to prevent transfer news being leaked out into the media on occasion, it is our policy not to talk about specific contract negotiations. However we are hopeful of positive announcements with regard to player and coaching recruitment for next season over the coming weeks and months.

Q: The Aer Arann supporters deal was well received. Are there plans for other suppliers, Stena Line perhaps?

A: We have entered into talks with other transport companies for our away fixtures and obviously it is in the team's interest to have as large a travelling support as possible. If the right offers are available, we will discuss them with the Official Leinster Supporters Club.

Q: When in Toulouse this season, I was amazed at the sheer volume of merchandise they have available - is there any plans to expand the range available from Leinster Rugby? Does Leinster Rugby have any plans or has any research been done for a store in Dublin city centre? Currently, exiled fans find it difficult to obtain merchandise, are there plans to expand and improve the online Leinster Rugby Store? Can the Season Ticket discount be applied to the online store?

A: We are currently negotiating with Canterbury and others for season 2009/'10 in relation to merchandise and we will be looking for a supplier to produce as much merchandise as physically possible to supply to our growing supporter base. We have researched the possibility of a city centre store and it has been noted that the Manchester United store, which was located on O'Connell Bridge/Westmoreland Street failed and lasted less than a year. It is also worth noting that the Dublin Football GAA team does not have a dedicated store for themselves. It would appear to us that at present it is not a commercially viable proposition at present

The online Leinster Rugby store is being looked at upgrading and certainly with our current/or new kit supplier we will definitely be trying to enhance/value in that area.

It is an interesting question and something that we should maybe look at.

Q: The training days around the province were a great success. What does Leinster Rugby have in mind to continue the expansion of the Leinster brand to more provincial and non traditional areas?

A: We intend on having the training sessions around the Province at the start of the coming season and as you can see from the Mini-rugby matches that are played at half-time at Leinster matches, it is certainly our intention to engage with the non-Metropolitan area as much as possible and to encourage more and more of the non-traditional support to come to Leinster matches.

To facilitate traveling clubs and schools we offer heavily discounted tickets to most of the matches. We also actively engage with all areas of the province through out extensive Rugby Development and Youth Development network and our players regularly visit clubs throughout the province.

by Official Leinster Supporters Club, © 2008-03-25