This week IRFU announced their new ticket prices to a cackle of disapproval. With the new Landsdowne Rd just christened, it seems that even a standard ticket in the new stadium for the vast majority of rugby games will set you back 100 euros a ticket. To make it tougher again, IRFU is selling tickets only as packages which means to get to the autumn series you will need to fork out 340 euro. For two people travelling together (most fans don't go it alone) you are hence talking 680 euros, plus possibly hotels, petrol, food, drink, the works.
We figured out it is probably cheaper to get a room for 2 at the nearby Four Seasons Hotel and watch the whole thing in spectacular rugby from just a stones throw away.
But hang on a minute now, only a few months ago, the IRFU had managed to goad a gullible public into backing its campaign against plans to force them to not merely sell off TV rights to the highest bidder, thus forcing fans to either go to games, purchase very expensive TV packages, or go to the pub to watch the game. In fact what nobody apart from myself pointed out at the time, was that a fan who wanted to watch an entire season from September to May would be forced to pay just over 500 a month (assuming they cancel for the remaining 3 months - otherwise they would pay an eye watering 640 euros for the entire year) for the privilige, something which IRFU's many gullible goons seemed to ignore. Given the notorious price of drink in Ireland, the alternative of going to the pub isn't in fact a lot cheaper. For example, lets say you're a typical Munster supporter who watches all Heineken Cup games. You'll be going to the local for 6 pool games and generall a quarter or semi. Thats 8 games in total. You'll probably typically also want to see the 2 derbies in the Magners league against Leinster. So you're talking about 10 pub visits. Its rather hard to walk into a pub without spending at least 30 quid and many spend as much as 100 euros - so most punters will spend 300-1000 a year watching games if the current arrangement continues. Its actually I think one of the reasons why Munster has such high demand for tickets and a strong travelling support - its no more expensive than the obscene prices charged by Sky TV and others.
And yet people are kicking off about Aviva prices, which in fairness, most ordinary Joe Soaps get no chance to buy anyway, since they are distributed in the most cryptic manner possible, via a labyrinth of clubs and a supporters club that is happy to get a few crumbs from the table once the clubs get their pick. Munster of course, is well known for its grossly unfair ticketing policies which effectively shut anybody who isn't a club member or hasn't been in the supporters club since 2004 out of ticketing entirely. Unless of course you use touts or had 5000 euros to spare for a 10 year ticket. So most ordinary punters would never get a shot to purchase a package anyway. The irony of the whole pricing debacle is it might start to put an end to VIP ticketing quangos so typical of previous years.
At the same time what all of this really highlights is the routine gouging of sports fans by cynical, money-grabbing organisations which you really have to question the true intentions of. I sat in Donnybrook on Friday and watched an extremely poor Leinster team, this is the team remember who sent then champs Munster crashing out of the Euro cup in 2009 and have taken the Magners title twice in about 4 years, being absolutely rogered by London Wasps. I paid 30 euros for this "privilige." This is the kind of cack being offered by IRFU at present - the ordinary punter gets very poor, mediocre practice sessions at the same price they might have paid for a significant game 8 years ago.
Speaking of which, its now more than 8 years since I first darkened a stadium for the first time, paying 10 euro at the gates of my beloved Musgrave Park to watch Munster play in the Celtic league. Its appalling that IRFU and others are so cynical to exploit fans when there is such misery out there in Ireland at the moment.