The RFU has launched an investigation into how a match ticket allocated to Owen Farrell for last Saturday’s match against Ireland was sold on a ticketing website for more than five times its face value.
The RFU acted after it emerged that an Irish supporter had purchased the £70 ticket – which was marked “England team” ticket and had Farrell’s name on it – for £440 on ticketing website Viagogo last Friday night for the following day’s Six Nations match.
The RFU issued a statement on Wednesday night insisting that it was satisfied that Farrell had done “nothing untoward” and “had no knowledge of this sale”.
But the governing body did not rule out the possibility that he could face a sanction for breaching the terms and conditions of the ticket.
Its investigation will centre on how the ticket, which Farrell is understood to have given to a friend or relative in good faith, ended up on the ticketing website at a price of £350, with VAT and the reseller fee taking the total price to £440.
It is understood that Farrell was shocked and frustrated that the ticket was sold, as that had not been his intention, and that he did not benefit financially.
The RFU, which launched a crackdown on black-market tickets in 2009, could conclude that the ultimate responsibility for the ticket still lies with the 22-year-old and possible sanctions could include the temporary suspension of his ticket allocation.
James Haskell, the England flanker, had his allocation suspended for three matches in 2009.
In that crackdown the RFU imposed sanctions on 41 clubs, constituent bodies, schools and individuals.
“We are satisfied that Owen Farrell did nothing untoward intentionally and had no knowledge of this sale,” an RFU spokesman said.
“We are looking into the circumstances around how this ticket came to be available on a secondary ticketing site, something we take extremely seriously.”
That Farrell’s ticket was sold on Viagogo is particularly galling for the RFU, which won a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court against the company in November 2012 after a long-running dispute to force it to identify people who were selling tickets on the website for England games at Twickenham.
The RFU was the first sporting body to take action of this kind in an effort to “maintain the price of tickets at a reasonable level in the interests of the public and to promote the sport”.
At the time the RFU warned that “if a seller is found to be listing these tickets on secondary websites they face tough sanctions, including possible court action”.