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Munster's Simon Zebo is tackled by Toulon's Josua Tuisova and Guilhem Guirado during the Champions Cup, Quarter Final at Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Munster's Simon Zebo is tackled by Toulon's Josua Tuisova and Guilhem Guirado during the Champions Cup, Quarter Final at Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
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Travel agents and airlines scramble to cater for Munster’s invasion of France

MUNSTER fans will not be left behind when their heroes take on Racing 92 in the Champions Cup semi-final on the weekend of April 22, according to travel agent Pat Dawson.

As soon as the final whistle went in Saturday's epic quarter-final against Toulon, attention turned to securing tickets and travel to the big game at Bordeaux's 35,000 seater Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux – over 550 miles away from Paris.

Andrew Conway of Munster celebrates with team mate and the crowd after scoring a crucial late second half try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Munster Rugby and RC Toulon at Thomond Park on March 31, 2018 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Andrew Conway of Munster celebrates with team mate and the crowd after scoring a crucial late second half try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Munster Rugby and RC Toulon at Thomond Park on March 31, 2018 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
The game has been confirmed for Sunday at 3.15pm but flights on the Saturday of the weekend of the game have swiftly sold out and a return flight from Dublin on the Friday is currently priced at just under €530.

An 8am flight on the day of the game from Dublin to return at 11pm that night comes in at a steep €335.

Cork Airport's normal Bordeaux service doesn't begin until June and Shannon doesn't provide a service to southwestern France so fans have been left scrambling for flights from Dublin.

However, Ryanair has announced a special return service for the match and charter flights will also be in operation.

The Ryanair flight will depart Cork on April 20 and return on April 23. 

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: “Munster are back in the semi-final of Europe’s top rugby club competition, and now their fans can ‘stand up and fly’ to their last four clash with Racing 92 in Bordeaux."

Travel agent Pat Dawson, who is chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said Dawson Travel and Lee Travel are working on day and overnight packages for fans to get to the game.

“Both Dawson Travel and Lee Travel are trying to put packages together at the moment to secure aircraft and accommodation,” he said.

“That's going on as we speak. They will have to hire in an aircraft from the UK or somewhere. Both companies will operate [the flights] from Cork.

“It's difficult to get aircraft because they are not that readily available as such and then you have to fly them in empty and they go home empty so it's a very expensive [option]. It's not like a scheduled airline.

“Chartering is very expensive but there's no choice in it. There will be an option there for people trying to get to the game – no doubt about it. It will take a few days to sort it out with both Dawson and with Lee Travel,” he added.

Head of communications at Cork Airport Kevin Cullinane said efforts are ongoing with tour operators and airlines and an announcement will be made once the details are finalised.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has announced they will lay on an extra flight from Dublin on the Friday and Sunday of the weekend the game takes place.

Other options for Munster fans desperate to see the game include flights to Paris and a seven-hour car journey or two and half hour train trip to Bordeaux.

Fans could also take the arduous option of a ferry trip from Rosslare or Cork to Cherbourg or Roscoff but will face seven-hour car and train journeys to Bordeaux once docked.

Munster's ticket allocation for the game has not yet been announced.