R14.24 a minute or R1 140 for the full 80 minutes. That’s what it’s going to cost the average rugby fan to watch the British & Irish Lions play the Springboks in three tests in South Africa next year.
Dan Retief reports for SuperRugby that this was the shock awaiting fans when SA Rugby on Wednesday revealed how supporters can acquire tickets for a tour that is already stirring up keen anticipation and which will arguably one of the most significant sports events yet staged in South Africa.
With upward of 50,000 British & Irish supporters expected to follow the Lions, tickets for the three test matches are going to be in short supply and SA Rugby has decided on a cost of R1 140 for a single ticket.
Just hours after seemingly putting to bed the controversy over its continued use of the Springbok as its emblem SA Rugby opened up another when it its announced sales policy for the 2009 Lions tour.
The union revealed that 22% of tickets for the tests are reserved for fans from the UK and Ireland and announced a structure aimed at rewarding regular supporters of the game.
Tickets will be made available in two phases – first to season ticket and suite holders and then to the general public.
Satisfying the massive call for tickets is an almost insurmountable obstacle for SA Rugby but there will nevertheless be outrage among rugby fans at the price of test tickets being more than double that of tickets fans already think are too expensive.
“Tickets will be in high demand with as many as 50 000 British and Irish visitors heading to South Africa,” explained André Homan, SA Rugby’s project manager of the Lions tour. “The fact that approximately 22% of test tickets are contractually earmarked to Lions supporters impacts on supply and demand and means that ticket prices are inevitably outside of the normal SA test range – but they do fall within international pricing standards.
“We had to find a creative way to make British & Irish Lions test tickets available and affordable to our most valued fan base and this was the solution we came up with.”
According to a Press statement from SA Rugby the country’s most loyal fans will be first in the queue to lay claim to match tickets for the tour.
“Season ticket and suite holders at five of the venues the Lions visit next year will be given priority access to claim a ringside seat in the first phase of sales for what is world rugby’s most eagerly anticipated event outside of a Rugby World Cup,” said the union.
Rugby supporters at Coca-Cola Park (Ellis Park), Loftus Versfeld, Vodacom Park (Bloemfontein) and Newlands will guarantee themselves a ticket to see the Lions in action when they purchase or renew their season ticket at those venues.
“British & Irish Lions tickets are not included in packages at the Absa Stadium, Durban, but season and suite ticket holders can buy Lions tickets when they renew.
“Non-season ticket holders who would like to see the Lions on their 12-yearly safari to Africa also have the opportunity to claim a ticket when the second phase of sales opens early in 2009. “
According to Andy Marinos, the acting managing director of SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd, “the provinces have entered into a unique joint venture agreement for the Lions tour and we collectively decided that we should give preference to our most loyal fan base – the season ticket and suite holders.”
“Season ticket and suite holders are the lifeblood of our provinces and our most valued supporters and this is one way to repay them for their commitment – by giving them priority in what is likely to be a frantic race to get hold of Lions tickets next year.
“We’re also mindful that many of our supporters are not able to afford the outlay for a season ticket and they will get their chance when the second phase of sales opens in the New Year.”
Each of the five unions have finalised their packages guaranteeing season ticket holders a Lions ticket as well as at least six Vodacom Super 14 matches and seven ABSA Currie Cup matches.
Season tickets are available from the usual provincial outlets while tickets for the general public will go on sale in the second phase early in the New Year at Computicket outlets and at their Shoprite and Checkers units.
First-phase suite and season ticket renewals:
Coca-Cola Park: www.lionsrugby.co.za or call 011 402 8644 ext. 131/139
Vodacom Park: www.cheetahs.co.za or call 051 407 1701/25
Absa Stadium: www.sharksrugby.co.za or call 031 308 8400
Newlands: www.wprugby.com or call 021 659 4600
Loftus Versfeld: www.bluebull.co.za or cal 012 420 0700
Approximately 180 000 tickets to see the Lions in action against South African teams will go on general sale to the public early in 2009.
The tickets will be made available in the second phase of sales, following first phase sales to season ticket and suite holders at five of the venues the Lions visit next year.
Almost 100 000 tickets will be available for matches at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg and for the Port Elizabeth match against a Coastal XV for R170. Approximately another 80 000 will be available in the second phase for the provincial matches at the test venues from R230.
Andre Homan added that “English and South African fans were paying more than R5 000 for World Cup fFnal tickets in October 2007 and the European market is used to paying in excess of R1 300 for a test match seat.
“Unfortunately it means there will be an extremely small number of tickets going on general sale for the three test matches. We expect them to be snapped up in the second phase of sales in no time even though they’ll cost R1 140.
“But with that in mind and in order to make the Lions available to just about every pocket the tickets that will go on sale in the second phase for the non-test matches at the metropolitan venues are very affordably priced from R230.”
Tickets in the second phase sales from early next year will also be available at Computicket outlets and at their Shoprite and Checkers units early in 2009.
Second-phase sales to the general public (from early 2009):
May 30: v Highveld XV (Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Rustenburg) – R170
June 3: v Golden Lions (Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg) – R230
June 6: v Cheetahs (Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein) – R285
June 10: v Sharks (Absa Stadium, Durban) – R230
June 13: v Western Province (Newlands, Cape Town) – R60 (scholars) R130 (standing) R285 (seated)
June 16: v Coastal XV (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth) – R170
June 20: v South Africa (1st Test, Absa Stadium, Durban) – R145 (scholars) R1 140
June 23: v Emerging Springboks (Newlands, Cape Town) – R60 (scholars); R115 (standing) R230 (seated)
June 27: v South Africa (2nd test, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) – R1 140
July 4: v South Africa (3rd test, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg) – R1 140Tweet