Cut-price tickets for under-16s, some for as little as £7, will be available for 41 of the 48 matches of the 2015 Rugby World Cup but none for the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final. A family of four will be able to watch England play a pool game in Manchester for £130 but for the same family to see Stuart Lancaster’s side in the knockout stages will cost close to £400.
The Rugby Football Union and its off-shoot England 2015, the body that will deliver the tournament, see the World Cup as an opportunity to broaden the sport’s appeal beyond its normal audience but have to balance that with the need to raise a hefty £80million through ticket sales alone in order to pay the International Rugby Board (IRB) its fee for hosting the event.
It means top-end tickets will be more expensive than ever – £715 is the highest price for the final compared to £545 in New Zealand in 2011 – and it also means there will be no concessions once the pool stages are complete, apart from for the third-place play-off at the Olympic Stadium.
The organisers insist though they have struck the right balance. Concessions for the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil are £15, while there were “pay your age” for some 2012 Olympic events but not for the blue-riband ones, such as 100m final night.
“Our focus is on the pool stages when there are matches across the country,” said Debbie Jevans, chief executive of England 2015. “That’s where we are going to be family-oriented. When you get to the back-end that is where we don’t anticipate there will be as many families and that’s where your core rugby fan will be watching.
“There are very few major sporting events that offer children entry prices of £7 to watch the world’s biggest teams.”
The price of the knockout stages, with a cheapest ticket for the quarter-finals £95, for the semi-final £125 and the final £150, will certainly narrow the focus to the sport’s core audience.
Brett Gosper, chief executive of the IRB, admitted that the lack of cut-price tickets for the business end of the event is because of the need to raise revenue through which the governing body funds the global game.
“Those games as you get to the sharp end of the tournament tend to be a slightly different crowd who are willing to pay the higher price,” said Gosper. “That’s part of the balancing of the economics of putting on a big tournament like this. In order to get accessible tickets you have also got to move ticket prices at the other end.”
Next year 2.3m tickets will go on sale, first through rugby clubs to their members then to the wider public, with a cheapest adult price of £15. Six Nations tickets for Twickenham range from £60 to £90 with no concessions. The cheapest tickets to watch England at Twickenham in the World Cup will be £75 for an adult, £15 for a child, although around three-quarters of the stadium’s 82,000 seats will be sold for £160, £215 and £315.
For England’s one pool game away from HQ, at Manchester City’s stadium against a qualifier, the cheapest tickets for adults will be £50 – but again there will only be around a quarter of the stadium’s capacity on offer at that level, the remainder will be sold at between £125 and £250. Away from England there are some strikingly low prices – £20 to see South Africa play in Brighton or France at the Olympic Stadium or Australia at Villa Park.
The organisers were keen to point out a family of four can go to Villa Park to watch Australia against a qualifier at midday on a Sunday for a total of £70. The lowest prices are for games between qualifiers as well as some matches involving the Pacific Islands’ sides; it will cost an adult £15 to see Tonga in Gloucester or Samoa in Brighton, an under-16 £7. Significantly more expensive will be All Blacks tickets, with a cheapest of £50 to watch them against an African qualifier in the Olympic Stadium.
For the knockout stages prices rise across the board. For the quarter-finals tickets will be over £150 for three-quarters of the seats in Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium. For the semi-finals three-quarters of the available seats at Twickenham will cost £215 to £515. For the final, prices range from £150 to £715.
In all more than half the tickets will cost more than £100, although the balancing act sought by the organisers means that half a million will be £50 and under. There is another juggling of demands in the distribution of tickets. The IRB expect over 70 per cent to end up with fans, the rest going to hospitality, the different unions and teams and sponsors. In England the number on sale to the general public will be 700,000 after half a million have been sold through clubs. All RFU-affiliated clubs will have access to final tickets.
Jevans expects tickets will remain on sale into 2015 but that the venues will be full come kick-off. “Our ambition is to sell out every venue, every ticket for the Rugby World Cup 2015,” she said.
The organisers yesterday also revealed kick-off times with all England’s pool games starting at 8pm, the first three of them at Twickenham.
England open the tournament on a Friday evening against the top Oceania qualifier, almost certainly Fiji, and then play Wales and Australia on successive Saturdays before completing the initial stage against a play-off winner in Manchester the following Saturday.
How it works
The first of the 2.3m tickets go on sale in January as part of travel packages. In May half a million tickets go on sale through RFU member clubs and 700,000 on general sale via Ticketmaster in September.
How much it costs
Stadiums are divided into four categories, plus two child (under-16) categories in the pool stages. For England games prices range from £315 to £50 for adults and £15 for children. For the other home unions prices range from £250 to £20 and £15 for children. The cheapest tickets for the rest are £15 for adults, £7 for children. For the knock-out stages prices range from £95 to £715.
When will it be played
England kick-off the World Cup on Friday, 18 September at 8pm at Twickenham. All England’s pool games begin at 8pm. Other kick off times are midday, 2.30pm and 5pm. The final begins at 5pm on 31 October.
How the ticket prices compare to other sports
Rugby World Cup final 2015 Price range: £150-£715
Rugby World Cup pool match £50-£315
Rugby World Cup final 2011 £170-£545
England v New Zealand at Twickenham this month £40-£98
Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford on Saturday £30-£379
Football World Cup final 2010 £106-£633
Football World Cup final 2014 £270-£607
Football World Cup qualifier at Wembley £35-£65
First F1 race 2014 (Australia): Weekend £1,050-£2,600; Sunday day ticket from £44
Wimbledon men’s singles final 2014 £148
Second Ashes Test at Adelaide £44-£135