Irish rugby fans ‘devastated’ after being denied entry to Ireland v South Africa despite tickets

Alan Ryan and his wife travelled to Paris to see Ireland play South Africa when disaster struck

A couple who had spent over €2,000 on a trip to Paris to see Ireland play South Africa at the weekend were denied access to the stadium upon arrival, despite having tickets issued by a well-known Irish travel agency.

Alan Ryan contacted The Irish Times after he was “devastated” when the much anticipated holiday, which coincided with the couple’s wedding anniversary, “was ruined” by multiple problems.

He says there were “so many issues” with the trip, which they had booked with Cassidy Travel, that he doesn’t even know where to begin. So, he takes us to 48 hours or so before they were due to go.

“The flight was changed on Wednesday morning at the last minute,” he writes. The flight home was due to leave Paris at 10.30pm but was changed to 8am the same day.


“We booked a taxi on the Sunday for 5am and arrived down to meet the guests still awaiting the transfer bus which was meant to have collected them at 4am,” he says. “The bus arrived before the taxi at 5am so we jumped on that and cancelled the taxi.”

But while the change of the flight was annoying and the problem with the transfer infuriating for those who had been left waiting, the worst part of his story was yet to come.

“The most important issue was when match tickets failed to allow us to enter the ground,” he writes. “We made it to the ground, had our tickets in digital and printed format, we made it over an hour before the match and we were refused entry at the turnstile. We tried several times to enter the stadium. I also tried to call the emergency contact number for Cassidy but to no avail.”

He and his wife left the ground at 9.30pm “having tried everything”. They even contacted a Garda who was on the scene, “but [they] could do no more for us on the night”.

He says that he “never complains but I am gutted about this, I was more than civil in my dealings with [the company]. What could we do? We spent a wasted weekend in Paris and didn’t get to see the dream game. We had our kids minded and our dog in kennels for the weekend. We paid €2,170 in several instalments over the last year. Money hard earned. We ultimately watched the second half of the game sitting on our bed back in the hotel.”

He says that he knows “Cassidy Travel to be a reputable company which is why we went with [it]”.

While the company has said it is “looking into” what happened, Ryan makes the point that the weekend has gone for good.

In addition to contacting The Irish Times, Mr Ryan also shared his story with Liveline.

Another rugby fan who had booked with Cassidy Travel told the programme she and her husband had been denied access to the stadium and had been told that the tickets were invalid because they had already been scanned by staff and used by others who were already in the stadium.

The Irish Times contacted Cassidy Travel seeking a response but in advance of that, spokeswoman, Aileen Eglington, told RTÉ Radio the travel agency was “working hard this morning trying to just analyse the whole problem”.

She said the flight changes had happened as a result airline changes and the issues with transfers were as a result of the high volumes travelling from the airport.

The “major, major issue here is not getting into the game”, she said.

Eglington said the agency are “an official World Cup partner [who] have been sending thousands and thousands of people out to all the games”.

She said they had a clear system where tickets were issued to individuals “and, like Alan said, everybody was sent their tickets, they were sent PDF’s.

“We have no explanation yet as to why those tickets were invalid,” she said. “We’re waiting on an explanation at the moment to find out why this happened. It’s a horrendous thing to happen and I know Cassidy Travel are shocked by this and they’re working on this at the moment.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast