Irish rugby had a bad enough weekend as it was, with a disappointing 21-23 home loss to South Africa, but the IRFU has been left with serious egg on its face in the wake of the abysmal turn out for the game.
Irish rugby fans voted with their feet, staying away in droves from the over priced new home for the Irish team.
Worryingly, it would appear even in the midst of a torrent of negative feedback, the IRFU is actually going to increase ticket prices for some games.
Ireland has always been one of the best supported rugby teams in the Northern hemisphere, so fans and commentators alike were shocked on Saturday at images being beamed world wide of a half empty stadium. Only 36,000 people were at the game, leaving swathes of empty seats in a stadium that holds 52,000. The IRFU should be embarrassed, it has shown itself to be completely out of touch with the current atmosphere of economic depression that prevails in Ireland right now, ignoring it by packaging expensive tickets together in combinations of matches, trying to squeeze every last penny out of the loyal supporters.
Their greedy plan hinged on forcing fans to buy tickets in a four match ‘bundle’ for a shockingly high €340. €85 a game? That is a ridiculous figure. Fans balked and the IRFU scrambled to introduce a new bundle. In a media friendly press release Irish Rugby Union chief executive Philip Browne admitted officials had set prices too high in ‘tough economic times.’ He said; ‘We’ve put our hands up and we are dealing with the reality of this,’
Their genius answer? The new ticket plan came out offering a package for the South Africa and Samoa games, costing €150 and a bundle for the New Zealand and Argentina games costing €190.
Wait a second, how on earth was this beneficial to Irish rugby supporters? The second package worked out as more expensive per game, at €95 each!
The IRFU could learn from the States, where teams put excellent initiatives in place to ensure their stadiums are always full and lively. For example, some teams offer cut rate family packages which include parking, food and a match ticket. Instead the IRFU’s arrogance led them to believe the trained seals otherwise known as Irish rugby fans would all cough up almost €100 a match for the privilege of watching Ireland play.
Boy did the judge that one wrong.
With the embarrassment of the empty stadium hanging in the air like a bad stench, the IRFU has now decided to slash ticket prices for Saturday's game with Samoa (€50 each), rightfully terrified that they would be playing hosts to an almost completely empty stadium. Even with that in mind though, the IRFU is refusing to budge on its tickets for the Argentina game on November 28, they are still priced at €95 each. €95 to watch a rugby game? Will they be providing complimentary drinks? Perhaps some finger food and a soothing back rub at half time?
Make no mistake about it, the IRFU thinks that you, the average Irish rugby fan, is an idiot. Why else would they say they are ‘rethinking the process’ and promise a change in pricing structure, only to actually raise the cost of a ticket to the New Zealand and Argentina games?
Their ticketing structure is nothing short of criminal. Tickets for Ireland’s upcoming home matches against France and England are being sold as a package at a cost of €250 for an adult for the two games and €80 for children. Therefore, a family of two adults and two children going to see Ireland in the spring will have to fork out €660, and that figure is before travel, food and accommodation, you know, for those fans not in Dublin (earth to IRFU, the Irish rugby fan also exists in far off places like Cork and Limerick!).
The message appears to be, if you are not a wealthy, Dublin based rugby fan, the IRFU doesn’t care if you make it to the game at their shiny new, elitist stadium or not.
Check out some of the up coming ticket prices for Ireland home games