Whistler bars prepare to host Rugby World Cup action 

Other establishments say early openings not worthwhile

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HUBERT KANG FOR DUBH LINN GATE IRISH PUB - early morning tries The Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub is local establishment that will host Rugby World Cup action beginning Sept. 18.
  • Photo by Hubert Kang for Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub
  • early morning tries The Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub is local establishment that will host Rugby World Cup action beginning Sept. 18.

Rugby fans will be able to head out of the house to get their fix for the game when the IRB Rugby World Cup kicks off later this month.

But they won't be able to enjoy adult beverages for most of the contests.

The provincial government announced on Aug. 26 that establishments would be allowed to open early to broadcast the tournament, which runs from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31 in the United Kingdom. However, no liquor may be served outside of the hours posted on the establishment's liquor license, and all patrons must leave the bar for at least 30 minutes before the bar may serve alcohol.

Tapley's is set to establish itself as a tournament home in Whistler, as it will open at 9 a.m. on game days, or at 8:45 a.m. for marquee games. The pub normally opens at 11 a.m.

The Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub won't have to make many adjustments to its schedule, as it opens at 8 a.m. daily and can begin serving alcohol at 9 a.m. Three-quarters of the scheduled games will start at 8 a.m. or later, including all but one playoff game.

"We're doing quite a bit. We're going to be showing pretty much every single game possible," bar supervisor Cian O'Hanlon said. "There are a couple games at 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. that we won't be showing, obviously."

There will be one exception, as the pub will open at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 to host fans for the Ireland vs. Canada game.

"There's such a big clientele for both (teams)," O'Hanlon said.

As part of the celebrations, O'Hanlon said there would be prizes for patrons, as well as discounts off regular-priced food for anyone wearing a jersey for the games.

Other local establishments like Roland's and The Crystal Lounge have ultimately decided not to take the province up on its offer. The Crystal does not serve breakfast while Rich Poehlmann of Roland's noted in an email that opening early would mean the pub would need to close early. Jono Young, the Crystal's manager, said the bar is pondering making an exception for the Oct. 31 final.

Minister Coralee Oakes was travelling and unavailable to explain the decision to restrict alcohol sales. In a statement, the Ministry of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for Liquor said the blanket approach, allowing bars to open early without applying, was a positive step forward.

"Bars, clubs and pubs can open early without having to apply for a special exemption — a previous requirement that was considered red tape by many. So, we've created flexibility. We are offering British Columbians the chance to enjoy the matches, camaraderie and full sporting experience, with alcohol service starting at 9 a.m. — which I believe is a fair, middle ground approach. It is important to strike a balance — having fair policies, while also understanding that we have limitations on liquor service hours to protect public health and safety," the statement read.

In addition to its opener against Ireland, Canada will play Italy at noon on Saturday, Sept. 26, France at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1 and Romania at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Canada has competed in every edition of the tournament since its inception in 1987, but has only made it beyond the pool stage once, in 1991. Canada was 1-2-1 at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

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