Ruck and Maul: Documentary fans flames over prices on ticketing website

 

Thursday's Channel 4 documentary concerning so-called "fan-to-fan" ticket resellers presented a compelling case that organised groups and purchasers on the make – rather than inconvenienced individuals who had paid for events they subsequently found they couldn't attend – are making a fortune buying and selling tickets to our most popular sporting events.

A look at Viagogo on Friday showed 34 tickets on sale for England v Ireland on 17 March, priced from £477 to £1,449 each, plus booking fees starting at £143 and VAT. The site also had 99 tickets available for Wales v France on the same date.

Now it may be that all those ticket-holders had suddenly become aware they have a clash with a St Patrick's Day drink and won't be able to make it to Twickenham or the Millennium Stadium after all. But whatever the reason for the resale, it appears that breaking the RFU and WRU ticketing terms and conditions is no barrier to these gigantic mark-ups from the £35 to £85 face value.

A lot of hard yakka

In a case of "we can beat them, but let's join them", the Tri Nations have just set out on an extended season that replicates the punishing 40-week schedule of top European players.

Super Rugby is played from now until the first week in June, when the international window takes over to include three-Test tours by England, Wales and Ireland to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Super Rugby resumes on 29 June, through to the final on 4 August (it used to be in May). After a week, the Rugby Championship, including Argentina, runs from 18 August to 6 October. Not long after that there are the tours to Europe.

Well, if we northern types can't stop Richie McCaw on the pitch, we may benefit by him and his team-mates being wilfully knackered off it.

The son also rises

While the former South Africa, Stade Français and Italy coach Nick Mallett is summering in Cape Town, amid strong rumours he is the RFU's choice as the next England head coach, his son Douglas has been hitting the bar – with a rugby ball, in a sponsor's challenge during a 10s competition that won him a new Golf GTI valued at R365,000 (£30,000).

Mallett Jnr, a 23-year-old fly-half for the UCT club, was one of six finalists offered a chance to strike the crossbar with a place-kick from the 10-metre line. "It's completely ridiculous, stupidly lucky – I'll never hit that in 100,000 times," Doug said.

After a few days to take it in, he was asked by the sponsors if his Hertfordshire-born dad had signed a contract to link up with England in June. "No, at the moment the interim coaches have been appointed in England," he said.

"There's a whole process to go through at some point... Being honest, my dad doesn't tell me enough about this kind of stuff. But I think he is in the process of going through with that."

Murphy's applause

Some numbers are not so meaningful but let's not allow Geordan Murphy's 300th first-team appearance for Leicester yesterday to pass by unremarked.

OK, it places the 33-year-old Irishman only 35th on the all-time Tigers appearances list that is led by David Matthews, the great former flanker, captain and club president, with 502. But Murphy's longevity in the professional era is worth a cheer – this is his 15th season at Welford Road and he is the only man to win seven league titles – as is his talent.

An overhead kick against Swansea in 2001 was indicative of a facility with the ball and a spontaneity probably lost forever in modern rugby, honed in Gaelic games and rugby growing up in Naas, County Kildare, that is practically lost to the modern game. It was shown yet again in Murphy's last-ditch drop-goal to seal a win at Saracens last week.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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