Everybody needs good neighbours. Yes, we stole that motto from a certain Australian soap but after the Brexit vote, it has perhaps never rung more true. Cross-border tensions in Europe are rarely as high as when it comes to sporting rivalries, however, and so it’s with plenty of gusto that Europe’s rugby elite lock horns once more for the Six Nations tournament.
Kicking off on Saturday, February 3 with a crunch Celtic clash in Cardiff between Wales and Scotland, this year’s competition promises to be just as fierce as ever. Can anyone stop England claiming a third successive title? Scrum down with your pals at these top sports bars and watch all the drama unfold…
There’s nothing pretentious about this Sheraton hangout. Yes, it’s modelled on a traditional British pub but while the wood panels might seem familiar, that’s surely part of its charm. Happy hour here runs daily from 7pm to 9pm but otherwise drinks are very reasonably priced, with pints of hops coming in at Dhs30. Grab a burger, sit back and cheer on your nation to death or glory.
Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel, Zayed The First Street (02 692 8500).
Blu Sky Lounge & Grill
With half of the six nations having blue as their home kit colour, you’re bound to find the right hue here. And whether you’re part of the Azurri, Les Bleus or the Tartan Army there’s no way you’d want to kick the lengthy happy hour (opening to midnight) into touch. Oh, and if you’re a fan of a certain Irish tipple, there’s a two-for-one offer on the black stuff, too.
Open Sun-Thu 3pm-3am, Fri-Sat noon-3am. Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Mina Street, Al Zahiya (02 818 4888).
Cooper’s Bar & Restaurant
We’ve waxed lyrical about this place for years, and not just because it’s a short lineout throw from our offices. The daily happy hour here is mammoth, lasting from noon to midnight and offering craft ales from just Dhs20. And if that doesn’t get you singing from the stands, there’s a cracking menu and plenty of HD screens, too.
Open daily noon to 2.30am. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Park area (02 657 3333).
There are few finer places to go to witness Irish eyes smiling than this ever-popular pub at the Al Raha Beach Hotel. And even if those brave boys from the Emerald Isle aren’t on top of their game, the staff will be, ensuring a warm welcome and a full glass throughout. The menu of Irish flavours is pretty nifty as well, while the drinks deals make this place very pocket friendly. In fact, we can’t think of a reason not to head here for at least one match.
Open daily noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Channel Street (02 652 4333).
NRG Sports Café
We’ve whiled away many an hour hopping from venue to venue within The Village at Le Méridien Abu Dhabi. But although you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bars and restaurants there’s only one place to be for the big game, NRG. This place is packed with screens and has a menu chock full of pub grub. The amiable staff will be showing their true colours throughout the tournament, with their natty personalised kits.
Open daily 4pm-2am. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiya (02 644 6666).
A long-standing member of the capital’s sports bar fraternity, PJ’s does the basics brilliantly. A lively atmosphere, enticing drinks deals and some hearty food make for a winning combination. If you’re there for a Saturday game, make sure you tuck into the BBQ with an array of meats on offer for just Dhs100, including a pint of a certain Irish apple-based drink. Sláinte!
Open daily noon-2am. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 695 0515).
Porters English pub
A basement bar with bargain basement prices, Porters has tonnes to offer rugger fans. The array of screens are perfectly laid out so you’ll never miss a pass, kick or crunching tackle, while the menu of British classics will have you reminiscing about the old country before you know it. And as if the beverages weren’t value enough, several drink deals will be available on matchday as well.
Open daily noon-3am. Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 495 3936).
Stars ’N’ Bars
What’s left to say about Time Out Abu Dhabi’s Sports Bar of the Year? Well, this Monte Carlo import might appear at first view to more about the touchdowns than the scrumdowns but it really gives rugby some love, too. Plonk yourself near one of the 76 (yes, that’s 76) screens and chow down on some of the brilliant pub grub. And if your boys are getting bashed, the array of memorabilia makes for a great distraction.
Open daily 11.30am-3.30am. Yas Marina (02 565 0101).
The Sportsman’s Arms
This ZSC pub is going all out for the Six Nations, adding a brand-new outdoor screen to its line-up of eight large HD TVs indoors. If the players’ brawn has raised your own testosterone levels, take on the “Are you man enough? Challenge” - you have 45 minutes to demolish a 72oz steak, small salad and onion rings. And for the tournament finale on March 17, happy hour is extended to 2am.
Open Sun 7am-11.30pm. First Floor, International Tennis Center, Zayed Sports City (02 447 1066).
Victor’s Bar & Restaurant
Having just celebrated its first birthday, Victor’s is already a big hit. As the Italians will agree, it’s not easy being the new kid on the block but this buzzing bar conducts itself more like a seasoned veteran. Happy hour deals, live bands and themed nights are some of the reasons this place gets packed and if your team is playing like a bunch of amateurs you can always hit the oche instead.
Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Kaktoum Street (02 666 5508).