The British and Irish Lions have laid he blame for the poor attendance at their seven tour matches to date squarely at the door of the South African Rugby Union and it’s commercial arm, SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
Attendance at all matches ranged from poor to shocking – with the opening match against the Royal XV attracting a paltry 12,000 spectators and the biggest attendance at a non-Test fixture the 35,000 that watched the Southern Kings take on the Lions in Port Elizabeth last week.
And despite the distorted figure of 49,055 – put out by SA Rugby and the ‘official ticketing agency’ – it was obvious to even the most casual observer that the first Test in Durban last Saturday was not close o a sell-out.
The large empty chunks of stadium seating made it obvious that at a push there were 45,000 spectators in attendance.
Whatever means was used to get to the figure of 49,000 – and even if so many tickets were in the public domain, not all those spectators arrived at the stadium – the B&I Lions have moved to distance themselves from the ongoing controversy over high ticket prices.
Lions Chief Executive, John Feehan, on Tuesday denied allegations that the British & Irish Lions had any involvement in the setting of ticket prices – which topped out at ZAR1,140 for Test match tickets.
“The South African Rugby Union and its provincial Unions had sole responsibility for the setting of ticket prices for the British & Irish Lions tour and the Lions management had no input whatsoever into any of this,” Feehan said.
“The Lions did appoint official overseas travel agencies to service the requirements of travelling British & Irish Lions supporters. However, the tickets for this programme were purchased at full price from the South African Rugby Union by the British & Irish Lions.
“It is true to say we are very surprised at the level of the attending crowds. The Lions only visit South Africa every 12 years and it is therefore disappointing that the stadiums have been far from full,” added Feehan.Tweet