Fury as rugby chiefs force fans to bulk-buy autumn tickets for €340
THE union representing professional rugby players yesterday joined fans in criticising the IRFU's decision to charge fans €340 to see Ireland's autumn matches.
Supporters have been told by the IRFU they must fork out for all four autumn games and they cannot choose individual matches.
But yesterday the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) criticised the ticket prices, pointing out that they were being introduced at a time when some players' salaries were being cut by as much as 30pc.
"Profits at the IRFU have also gone up on the back of the performances of those players. As a fan going to see these games, it's hefty enough in the current times," said IRUPA chief executive Niall Woods.
According to the IRFU, however, those who pay the €340 will enjoy an "enhanced offering" at the new Aviva Stadium.
The match against South Africa on November 6 marks Ireland's first appearance in their redeveloped home at Lansdowne Road.
Tickets for all four November internationals against South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Samoa are being sold as a package, with a price of €340 for stand seats, €425 for premium and €135 for schools seats.
"Any person wishing to purchase a ticket for any one of the games must also purchase the same ticket for the other three games," the IRFU said yesterday, to the fury of some supporters.
Munster Supporters Club chairman Ian Buckley said Munster fans were already grumbling about the prices and many of them would choose to stay at home rather than travel to the games.
"Already fans are complaining on various websites and saying these prices are out of reach for most fans," said Mr Buckley, whose club has more than 11,000 members.
"Many are saying the prices are high for an international game and they seem to be saying they'll stay at home and go to watch Leinster play Munster when most of the Irish players will be on show."
While he admitted the IRFU had to price its tickets to suit the new stadium, he stressed that travel, food and drinks costs were prohibitive enough without the expense of a ticket being factored in.
"You will see fans deciding to stay at home and go to Thomond Park and they'll still have money in their pocket."
For the South Africa and New Zealand fixtures, that works out at €100 a stand ticket for each game, €90 for the match against Argentina and €50 for the Samoa fixture.
School tickets work out at €40 for each of the top two games, €35 for the Argentina clash and €20 for the game against Samoa.
School tickets for Hill 16 in Croke Park cost €25, but the IRFU said the Aviva prices were for seated tickets.
In contrast, prices for England's forthcoming international against Samoa at Twickenham in London, a week after the South Sea islanders' game in Dublin, are now on sale starting at £25 (€30) and rising to £65 (€79) for adults and £10 (€12) for juniors.
Tickets for Ireland's home Six Nations internationals against France and England are also being sold as a package of €200 for stand tickets -- working out at €100 a game, with schools packages costing €80 -- €40 per match.
Defending its general entry ticket prices, the IRFU said they reflected "the enhanced offering to patrons in the new Aviva Stadium with its modern design giving greater standards in terms of seating, views of the pitch, as well as access to a greater number of concession stands, restaurants and bars".
The union, it said, was a nonprofit organisation and the only dividend it produced was one of participation in sport.
An IRFU spokesman said tickets for international and RBS Six Nations fixtures had been sold as a package since 2005.
"We understand these are tough economic times in the country but we are putting the money back into the game," he added.
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