Fans must fork out at least €1,000 to follow World Cup
Tickets for Ireland's 2015 Rugby World Cup pool games will be nearly THREE times more expensive than those in the 2011 competition.
After the dates and venues were confirmed yesterday, awkward Sunday evening kick-off times will ensure that accommodation and transport costs will push the costs well above four figures for Irish supporters.
In New Zealand two years ago, it was possible for Irish supporters to attend all four of Ireland's pool games for under €400, but similar standard tickets this time around have pushed the price for the four games to just short of €1,000.
However, after the New Zealand RFU lost more than €40m on the 2011 World Cup, England and IRB chiefs are under pressure to make this tournament as lucrative as possible.
Ireland supporters eager to see this country stage the competition in 2023 ahead of favourites South Africa would do well to heed the message -- the ordinary fan will have to pay through the nose for the privilege.
Based on some of the prices for the 2015 tournament, it would arguably be better value for real rugby supporters to purchase season tickets for ALL four professional clubs instead.
If Ireland make history and get beyond the quarter-final stage -- where they may have to beat New Zealand -- tickets for the final itself will range from €180 to a staggering €854.
If only the most expensive tickets can be sourced for each game, it would cost over €1,700 for one person to follow Ireland all the way to a World Cup triumph.
Getting there -- and staying there -- particularly in Cardiff, a city notorious for its accommodation shortages which can push room rates above €500 per night per person -- will be quite another problem.
Three of Ireland's four Pool D games take place on a Sunday at 5.0.
After the opening clash with Canada at the Millennium Stadium on September 19 at 2.30, Sunday, September 27 sees Ireland take on a qualifier from Europe, likely to be either Georgia or Romania, at Wembley at 5.0.
The Olympic Stadium hosts Ireland's clash with Italy on Sunday, October 5 at 5.0, with Ireland meeting France at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, October 11 at 5.0 in a likely pool decider.
Should Ireland lose that game, they will have only six days to prepare for a probable early afternoon meeting with the All Blacks, but they will remain in Cardiff -- where New Zealand lost at the same stage to France in the epic 2007 edition.
If Ireland beat France, they will still remain in Cardiff, but have a day more to prepare for a likely afternoon assignment against Argentina.
The key to Ireland's World Cup schedule from Joe Schmidt's point of view is to negotiate the skewed schedule -- Ireland's easiest games come first, on the opening two weekends.
There are discounted prices for children -- but you'd better leave them at home after the pool stages because no such system will be deployed for the knock-out stages.
There was widespread criticism of the RWC ticketing policy yesterday, but, after struggling to conduct a profit in 2011, the IRB and RFU are under pressure to deliver significant revenues this time around.
The IRB hopes to make a surplus exceeding €150m, while the RFU, who had to stump up over €100m to guarantee their hosting -- another note to Mr Varadkar and the IRFU -- will want to see their slice of the cake hit somewhere north of €20m.
England 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said:
"We are launching our ticketing plans so that fans understand the ticketing process for Rugby World Cup 2015. We want the tournament to be a celebration of rugby, encouraging more people to support and enjoy the game.
"We have a range of ticket prices for every budget -- for fans and families who want to come to one of the world's greatest sports events.
"Our ticketing programme is built for fans who support the game week in week out, whilst encouraging a new generation of rugby fans through Rugby World Cup 2015."
IRB chief executive Brett Gosper trumpeted: "There are affordable and accessible options to suit every need."
Those paying over €60 to sit through Argentina play Tonga on a Sunday lunchtime in Leicester may beg to differ.
The key dates to purchase tickets are:
January 1, 2014: Travelling fan packages go on sale.
February 2, 2014: Hospitality packages go on sale.
May/June 2014: Tickets on sale to rugby fans through clubs.
September 2014: General sale application process begins.
November/December 2014: Real-time sale of remaining tickets.