England visit proving big draw as Irish fans snap up Aviva tickets
THE IRFU have shifted 70,000 tickets for their two August internationals, with England proving to be a big draw to the Aviva Stadium.
Around 10,000 tickets remain for the visit of the old enemy on August 27 for Ireland's final game before the World Cup kicks off.
Around 30,000 tickets have already been sold for Ireland's other home game against France on August 20, with Les Bleus due to host the reverse fixture a week before the Aviva clash.
Less than 250 family packages remain for the France game, while the €60 family tickets are sold out for the England clash. Schoolboy/girl tickets are still available for €10 and the most expensive tickets are selling at €50.
Tickets for the World Cup in New Zealand are still no closer to selling out, but organisers are confident of attracting crowds to the games.
More than a million of the 1.6 million tickets available have been sold and the shifting of games from the earthquake-hit Christchurch has been a blow. Organisers are using this weekend's Bledisloe Cup clash between the All Blacks and Australia at Eden Park as a dry run for the event.
And World Cup chief Martin Snedden is confident of filling stadia around New Zealand when the tournament kicks off next month.
"Once people see the tournament start, once they see the opening ceremony, the opening match, there will be strong ticket sales right through the tournament," he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland's group opponents Russia have adopted an unorthodox training approach ahead of their debut World Cup by linking up with the country's Olympic champion wrestlers.
The Russian Bears are preparing for their New Zealand adventure in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which is home to the country's high-performance athletes.
And they took full advantage of their stay by taking on Olympic gold medallists Khadzhimurat Magomedov and Khadzhimurat Gatsalov on the mat.
"We often use the same elements, exercises and techniques in training as those used in rugby. The fight is the ability to control the body while not losing concentration," Gatsalov said.
"Perhaps wrestling and rugby are the sports closest to one another -- both need dexterity and sharpness, and who is the more co-ordinated, the faster, the stronger, is the one who wins."