Poor crowds? The problem is ticket prices!

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :2009 Lions Tour, In the news on 12 Jun 2009 at 07:18
Tagged with : , ,

If I had a buck for every person who’s asked why the crowds have been so poor for the first three matches of the Lions’ tour I might well have had enough to pay the R230 the South African Rugby Union was asking for entry to the Absa Stadium last night.

Mike Greenaway reports for The Mercury:

It’s a lot of money for the average person, especially one with a wife and children.

So we’ve had 12 000 lost souls in Rustenburg, 22 000 forlorn folk cursing their luck that they had to pay to watch the wretched Golden Lions (do they have a claim against the local Lions for their misrepresentation as a professional rugby team?) and 23 000 in Bloemfontein for the game-of-the-tour (so far).

We’re talking about half-full stadiums (not half-empty, in case you mistake me for a pessimist) for a tour that comes around every dozen years. Are we as a rugby nation showing scant respect for the British and Irish Lions; is the tour devalued by the poor attendance at these warm-up games before the Test series?

Aah, I think we’ve just had a Freudian slip. Warm-up games – that’s what they are because of the removal of the 28 Springboks off preparing for the Tests.

Paul O’Connell, the Lions’ captain, last week said he fully understood why there were no current Springboks released for the month-long curtain-raiser to the June 20 Test in Durban. He put it down to shorter Lions’ tours in the professional era.

That sounds about right. Because, while it’s often been said that a Lions tour is the last good, old-fashioned rugby tour, it unfortunately is not.

Ten games in six weeks is not an old-fashioned Lions’ tour. In the old days, a tour took anything from three to five months, which provided plenty of time for between-match recovery. The Lions would play full-strength provincial teams containing Springboks intent on softening-up their adversaries before the Tests. A match against, say, the Bulls took on the status of a “fifth” Test.

That was what the rugby fans wanted to see.

In modern Lions’ tours, the non-Test games simply don’t have the status of days of yore. No current Boks, 7.10pm kick-offs during the working week and an inflated average price of R250.

In fact, let’s cut to the chase… the South African Rugby Union’s decision (in conjunction with provinces) to charge a price beyond the reach of the man-in-the-street is the overriding reason for the poor attendances.

Greed, avarice, call it what you will. The ticket prices are too high.

It was expected that the British and Irish would come in hordes to fill the stands that South Africans could not afford to grace but then the recession struck and the fans have chosen not to pitch or to restrict their visit to the Test matches.

The organisers have been penny wise but pound foolish.


  • I wonder exactly who set the prices, the provinces, SA Rugby or the Lions, because I have heard the prices were set with the Lions supporters in mind, and may well have been on agreement with the Lions which is a business these days, not a rugby team.

  • Comment 1, posted at 12.06.09 08:20:45 by Baldrick Reply
  • @Baldrick (Comment 1) : spot on, we all forget that 230 is only about 15 pounds which is not that expensive, one of the problems we South Africans have to live with, but what is to stop SARU selling cheaper seats hehind the poles or in the upper tiers. Anormal family od 4 paying over a thousand Rand to watch that shite the Lions served up, the local ones that is, is prohibitive

  • Comment 2, posted at 12.06.09 08:43:23 by Whindy Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • A family of five is going to spend a 1000+ rand to see not quite a Currie Cup team get mauled by the Lions? SARU need a reality check. The test tickets are a similar fleecing. That same family is going to spend close to 5000 rand and thats just tickets, add parking, merchandising, drinks and food and you probably nearing 6000 rand for 80 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

    Not really accessible, unless you set the prices and have space for your wives and mistresses on the backs of supporters.

  • Comment 3, posted at 12.06.09 08:57:39 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • However they sort this rot out, they simply must. It is an embarrassment to see half full stadia, this after everyone talks up a Lions tour as an historic, once in a lifetime event for many players, and a number of supporters as well.

  • Comment 4, posted at 12.06.09 09:00:27 by Baldrick Reply

  • Damn,for R300 i can watch the game at home with steak beer chips etc.I aint going no place fo sheezy!Yeeaaah Boiii Flava Flav!

  • Comment 5, posted at 12.06.09 09:11:04 by Claytie Reply
  • Add to that the fact that the fans have just forked out plenty for the Super 14 games. Ouch!!!

  • Comment 6, posted at 12.06.09 09:17:49 by Ollie Reply

  • @Claytie (Comment 5) : 😆 Flava Flav!

    But seriously…this is crazy…

    Tickets for the match + Bok jersey = something with a running engine…

  • Comment 7, posted at 12.06.09 13:23:05 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I believe it’s not so much the ticket prices but the fact that the provinces aren’t allowed to play their Boks. This means that the provinces have very little chance of beating the Lions.

    If the provinces were at full strength, then the R230 per ticket is probably justified. However without full strength lineups, ticket prices should be no more than R100!

  • Comment 8, posted at 12.06.09 14:33:06 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.