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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 7, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    IRFU’s greed comes home to roost

    Noel O'Reilly

    Just how many empty seats were there at the Aviva Stadium last night? The IRFU, still reeling from the ticketing fiasco of their own making, declined to communicate the official attendance with the best guestimates suggesting up to 15,000 seats remained unsold.

    Some of the thousands of empty seats at the Aviva last night

    Although the IRFU held its hands up at the start of last week and promised an urgent review of its ticketing policy, surely more could have been done to get bums on seats.

    Selling tickets individually may have been grossly unfair on those who had already paid top dollar for a two-match package, but at least it would have brought thousands more punters through the turnstiles.

    And the sight of the schoolboys section (tickets were €60 for the two-game package) almost two-thirds empty on what should have been a momentous occasion highlighted the union’s arrogance and greed.

    If just 35,000 can be tempted to part with their hard-earned cash for the visit of the world champions on Ireland’s homecoming, how many will turn up to see Samoa next weekend?

    • cockneyrebel says:

      ‘schoolboys’ section….? what a 21st century country!

    • John says:

      Absolute disgrace – IRFU need new management as the current lot are clearly disconnected from the fans.

    • Kieran says:

      Are IRFU trying to squeeze the same amount of money per game out of matches at Lansdowne as they did in Croke Park, with a 32,000 deficit in capacity? It’s utter nonsense.

    • cockneyrebel says:

      Ronan O’Gara says the team need the fans to turn out…the fans need Ronan to turn out…why do they keep playing Sexton…and then bring Ronan on to limit the damage…?
      I couldn’t bear watching after the first half…Declan Kidney needs to stop making offal (ouch!) decisions…why does he keep O’Gara on the bench…he’s obviously a motivational force in the team…is it the anthem anathema by any chance…?

    • It seems the official attendance was 35,517, some 16,000 shy of the new stadium’s capacity. That’s a helluva lot of empty seats. It’s not as if the interest has waned among the Irish rugby public. According to the IRFU’s press office, some 5,000 are expected to turn out for an open training session at the stadium tomorrow. Not bad for a wet Monday in November.

    • Tony says:

      leinster magners league and Heineken games are more enjoyable and entertaining and tickets only fraction of the IRFU price. and they cater for families.

    • Richard McKinney says:

      Ignoring the fact that tickets are completely overpriced the new Aviva stadium causes me nothing but frustration. Getting in to and out of this stadium is a nightmare. Why there are new crowd control measures that require fans to walk ridiculously long distances all around the area to enter the stadium through specific turnstiles is crazy. Part of the pleasure of going to an international match was, for me, walking down Lansdowne Road with all the thousands of people around you and a buzz in the air. This has sadly been lost.

    • P J says:

      Access to and exit from the ground is horrendous as was evidenced by Buble concert earlier this autumn. Lessons havent been learned by anyone concerned with stadium and IRFU. Wake up lads before you lose the momentum of the recent years. Team will come right I hope but attention and common sense required off the field.

    • N O'Shea says:

      How come Leinster can charge a tiered pricing structure (€25 – €50) yet the IRFU have a blanket €100 for all tickets, good or bad.

      What’s the source on the 35,517 attendance?

    • Sarah says:

      I was excited all through construction to think of travelling home from Canada for some action at the newly revamped Lansdowne Road during the 6 Nations next year but I have been completely turned off by the whole fiasco. I have supported the team through the rough and the smooth and have been to goodness knows how many games since being a ‘schoolboy’ (ahem!) and I am hugely disappointed that the attraction is no longer there for me. I will instead endeavour to get to Leinster’s Magner’s League game against the Ospreys when I am home for Christmas. Rugby is one of the things I miss the very most about living in the British Isles, but I can’t justify forking out for the Irish games when there are so many people out there who want to attend but simply can’t. This is not the way to get the country behind your team; it’s very disappointing to see it becoming an ‘exclusive’ sport again.

    • orieldude says:

      May I play devil’s advocate here?

      Irish rugby fans – in particular Munster and Leinster fans – have spent the last 10 years boasting about the hoops they’ve jumped through to secure tickets for all the big matches both here and in Britain and France. There were loads of stories about tickets changing hands for hundreds of euro for big internationals and Heineken Cup games. This paper was quite happy to print that rubbish every time some big ‘Heino’ or 5-Nations & A Principality match was on.

      Munster fans were able to fill the stadium in Cardiff despite the savagely inflated costs of getting there and staying there, never mind the actual price of the tickets. Many of the same fans endured the hardship of long Spring weekends in the south of France or north of Spain (!) to be able to proclaim themselves ‘best fans in the world’. These people – thousands of them, not hundreds – were dropping at least 1,000 euro (if not more) for, essentially, 80 minutes of rugby. Yet when the IRFU attempt to tap into this (frankly ludicrous) behaviour they’re castigated from all angles by the exact same poor, down-trodden, ordinary working Joe rugby fans.

      So what’s the excuse? Things are different now because there’s a recession? Well that just goes to show how vulgar the new-age rugby fan has been for the last few years.

      Or is it that the same people who would have parted with a limb to get into Croker for that England match in 2007 know that the national team are in terminal decline? Maybe there just isn’t the same social cache at the office water cooler on a Monday morning anymore like in the days when they could boast about the craic in Trevor Brennan’s in Toulouse or how many flights around Europe they had to take to get to Zaragoza or whatever.

    • Brian says:

      The IRFU tonight are still advertising tickets for sale at ridiculous prices. When are they going to learn from this fiasco.

    • Dick Cheeseman says:

      I was amazed to see people leaving their seats with 35 mins of the game played. Granted, the rugby on display from Ireland in the first half was pretty awful to watch; but why would you want not to be watching the game after you had paid those eye-watering ticket prices? What with the low attendance, you’d hardly imagine there were any half-time bar queues…

      The atmosphere was very staid until Stringer started serving up vastly better ball than Leaden Reddan had done, and Rog began bossing things. They may not be spring chickens, but that was much, much better than what we had endured for the first 65 mins.

    • Noel says:

      IRFU have lost the plot. No way were we going to pay such rip off prices for a friendly match of little competitive importance. Much better to stay at home and watch it on TV. If they price the six anywhere remotely like this get used to 30k folk in a half ‘empty’ Lansdowne road. Are the IRFU living in a parallel economic dream world?

    • Colin says:

      Together with the missing fans, the annoucement of the official attendance was not heard either! Strange that it has been announced at every game up till now!

    • Larry says:

      The ticket issue did not just become apparent the week before the Game, they had ample to time to sort it out but dragged their heals in disbelief. I think they hoped the supported would suck it up and pay the price like we have before, they could quite simply have picked 5 Irish charities and sold on the tickets with them without offending anyone. Minimal cost returned to IRFU, fans get to match, charities make some needed cash.
      So, they would not get any more money in but the Irish team could have played in a full house which the deserve and probably needed on Saturday. This could still be done for the coming games, imagine Jack & Jill foundation or many other needy groups getting income from this win win position. And the IRFU would not loose any face, good love them….
      I agree with John above, it shows an incredible level of disconnect to the fans.
      I hope the team can rise above it and get support from the IRFU so that we the fans can do what we do best!

    • michelle says:

      I bought two tickets to the game but An Post failed to deliver them to me so on saturday afternoon 45 minutes before kickoff I went to the official ticket office on landsdown road where I was prepared to pay full face value for a new ticket so that I could actually get to the game, I was shocked when 45 mins before the game the IRFU refused to sell me a ticket for the game unless I bought one for the samoa game. I have already purchased tickets for samoa with my original SA tickets so was definitely not going to do so a second time so I ended up leaving the ticket office empty handed and getting one for 20 euro less from a tout outside the door!!!!, The IRFU really have lost the plot when a few minutes before kickoff they won’t sell a ticket at full price because of their stupid stance on ticket packages, they preferred the seats to remain empty than to see sense.

    • robespierre says:

      O’Gara did well when he came on but I remember plenty of days when he wobbled at start of his career and Humphreys was needed to steady the ship. Sexton is still fairly callow. Our main problem was our front five seriously underperformed.

      As to the ticketing fiasco. I have stood on the east terrace with Leinster for over ten years through Donnybrook, Lansdowne and now the RDS and can avow that none of the other hardcore fans from our neck of the woods are going to international matches anymore. We watch them, we like to see Ireland do well but it is quite simply more fun and hell of a lot more exciting to watch your province. The overweaning influence of corporatism is largely absent at provinical level so you get more real fans at the games. Saturday is merely the culmination of the selling-out of our national team.

    • Larry says:

      @orieldude I hear what you are saying and some of those stories get more embellished by the year! All to prove how long a supporter they have been…

      But the the fact remains they were indeed different times and supporters bought into the momentum and decided to pay a price for a ticket for a match which promised high level competition and intensity. They were not strong armed into paying for another match viewed as a lesser quality. They paid their money and took their chances.
      I don’t agree we are in terminal decline, change yes for sure but there is strong signs of depth, and this will not keep fans away. In times like this a strong team and roaring crowd can lift the country.

      It is purely a price and a value perception issue. God knows football fans in the UK pay a high price weekly for games.
      Agree with N O’Shea above, tiered pricing and clarity of cost will go along way to filling the seats. Anyone selling any arena prices by location, it simple.
      I believe the team is still great and can attract the crowds, IRFU simply need to price it right.
      In some ways it is recession proof if it feels like value, and like it or not if the provinces you mentioned do well in H’ cup no doubt there will be traveling legions for Legends again… starvin kids left at home to face the mortgage!

    • CG says:

      On the ROG issue. People fail to realise that yes, he bossed things around when he came on, but if he had been there from the start, we probably wouldn’t have been that close near the end. SA would have targetted him and gone through him. We would have been a further 20 points down by the last 10 minutes.

      Sexton has to be given time, and the Autumn Internationals are the time to do it, not in the 6 Nations and certainly not in the World Cup.

    • Niall says:

      Firstly, I have to say that given the headline in the Irish Times this morning I was expecting much more of a critical account of the ticketing fiasco disaster. A few lines in GT’s article, a few column inches with ROG’s thoughts. In truth the subject matter of this blog should be a top story. ‘How IRFU Failed Irish Rugby’ , because thats exactly what has happened.

      The IRFU have failed their members, their players and the supporters and have done huge harm to team as a result. With the first match back at Landsdowne they’ve succeeded in alienating 1000′s of fans and showing just how out of touch the organisation really is.

      Worst of all the players (not the IRFU….) have had to come out and ask fans to stump up the cash to some and see them play. How utterly unfair is that to players? They should have been preparing for the game 100%, not doing media interviews begging for a turnout. Everything which has been mentioned regarding schools receiving tickets is nothing less than the decent and common sense thing to do. At least we would have had an atmosphere at the match.

      I didnt pay for my ticket on Saturday (I got comped and was bloody grateful!) I went to each of the Guinness fixtures last year as well as home 6N games, but being asked to pay €150 is ludicrous. A lot of the seats in my section were obviously not paid for either (comps, sponsors etc). So I wonder if those hoards of ppl staying in the bars at half time, or leaving 20 minutes early, were actually true supporters in the first place or did they have compd tickets as well.

      The Aviva isnt a fortress, its a nice stadium, (run by jokers and the organisation leaving matches is panic inducing sometimes) but its not a fortress. And it will never become a fortress until supporters get behind their team. Until then I’ll be in the pub watching Hook, Pope and co. Thats guaranteed entertainment.

    • Martin says:

      Lots of points here that are all quiet valid. From my own point of view it’s the first home game I’ve missed since 1996. Basically since I started earning my own money. I just couldn’t justify the cost of tickets, travel, accomadation, food, drinks etc. I reckon all in a weekend in Dublin would have cost me in or around €500. I can afford to do that only once in this series so I’m choosing to go to the All Blacks game. When I lived in Dublin the only real cost was the ticket and the beers but now living in the wilds of Limerick everything else mentioned above comes into play. The IRFU got this wrong in a big way and the cop out a couple of weeks ago that the ticketing strategy was set out last March is laughable. Fine they held up their hands last week but the writing was on the wall for this up to 8 weeks ago. It was head in the sand stuff. I’m lucky in that I can go to the games if I so choose but I think a lot more people like me will be voting with their feet and staying away.

    • Colm Geoghegan says:

      A 22% price rise on last year and the country on its knees. What planet are they on?!

    • Shane says:

      No point complaining about access to the stadium……the “only” idea Bertie had worth developing was Berties Bowl….greenfield, state of the art and planned!!
      The new stadium looks great but was always going to be a logistical fiasco…..sums up parochial Ireland.

    • muckduff says:

      I am afraid to add up the amount of money I have paid over the years to go to rugby matches. My wife would probably kill me if she knew (I’d probably kill myself). Anyway ignorance, in this case, is bliss. Irish rugby has given me tremendous entertainment over the decades, particularly the last decade. But now the international ticket prices are too high. We are headin into the worst recession this country has ever known so people just wont part with that amount of cash. I also think there is too many Internationals this autumn, two games at most would be sufficient. Anyway I cant pay the prices so wont go. I will continue to get my rugby fix at provincial level and if they price me out of that I will go back to watchin club rugby.

    • johnnyyen says:

      A bit off topic here but how come there has been no mention of Jannie Du Plessis “making contact with the eye area” of David Wallace in the first half. He was no where near the ball and had both hands on Wallace’s face. The incident was shown clearly during the game in replay. And HERE

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