Sunday 30 April 2017

Ticket sales for Ireland's World Cup matches hit by recession

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

THE recession is having an impact on Irish ticket sales for next year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand as officials have admitted slow uptake for the two less glamorous pool matches against the USA and Russia.

An IRFU spokesman said the union and World Cup organisers are expecting sales to pick up in the new year but acknowledged the economic situation would affect the number of travelling fans. The majority of Ireland fans are expected to come from the large ex-pat population in Australia and those who are already travelling in the region -- as happened in 2003 when the competition was last held in the Antipodes.

"There is no indication yet from the IRFU Supporters Club or other sources of the numbers travelling," the spokesman said. "Organisers feel fans will wait until the new year before making plans but there's no doubt the recession will affect the numbers travelling."

And those concerned with selling tickets are appealing to the locals to pick up the slack, with just 24pc of available tickets sold for the three RWC matches in Rotorua, where Ireland take on Russia on September 25.

"We're not going to have huge games here," said Rotorua Events and Venues operations manager Crispian Stewart, who admitted the ticket prices of NZ$31 (€17.50) for adults and NZ$15 (€8.50) for children could be an issue in attracting neutrals.

"I think the Irish game is going to be our biggest but still we are struggling to sell it to the locals."

First up for Declan Kidney's side is the USA on September 11 but so far there has been little interest in the trio of games on offer in New Plymouth, with just 16,000 of the 55,000 available tickets bought.

Officials there are also pinning their hopes on the locals stepping up and filling the stadiums for the games. The slow sales have not come as a shock to Jenny Mills, RWC manager with the New Plymouth District Council.

"I'm not surprised, we're about the same as other centres of our size," she said. "There's okay interest for the Ireland-USA game. Obviously I'd have liked more ticket sales but I'm sure momentum will build in the new year."

Irish Independent

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