irishtimes.com - Last Updated: Monday, November 1, 2010, 21:59

IRFU admits ticketing 'strategy error'

Rugby: The IRFU tonight backtracked on its ticket demands for the autumn internationals and admitted making an “error in its ticketing strategy” after clubs around the country raised concerns over selling their allocations.

At a meeting of the IRFU Management Committee it was decided that clubs will only be asked for immediate payment for tickets they have sold for the four match series. The association also gave a commitment to work with the branches and the clubs to assess the situation regarding unsold tickets with a view to reaching an equitable solution to this difficult problem.

“There has been slower than expected demand for this autumn’s Guinness Series,” explained Philip Browne, IRFU chief executive. “There are a number of elements impacting on this situation since the sales structure was drawn up in March 2010, including a further significant deterioration in the economic climate.”

“While the situation varies from club to club we are aware that a number of clubs are still in possession of tickets for matches. In the interests of Irish Rugby, the IRFU, the branches and the clubs, must continue to work hard to sell these tickets right up to kick-off for each match.

“The IRFU do not want to see clubs suffer financial hardship as a result of being unable to sell ticket packages for this Guinness Series and consequently will only seek immediate payment for tickets sold. On completion of the series, the IRFU will work with the branches and clubs to assess the effect of the reduced demand for tickets.”

The IRFU originally packaged all four of Ireland’s autumn internationals together but later divided it into two-match packages. A combined New Zealand, Argentina ticket costs €190 and the South Africa, Samoa package costing €150 with individual tickets available for the Argentina and Samoa games.

“In addition the IRFU will undertake a comprehensive review of its entire ticket sales strategy, which includes price tiering, bundling and distribution channels,” added Browne. “As part of this review, which will commence immediately on completion of the Guinness Series, it will consult widely with its stakeholders.”

It was further agreed that ticket allocations to branches and clubs for next year’s Six Nations matches will not be affected by sales of tickets for the Guinness Series. Ireland play England and France on home soil.

Meanwhile Declan Kidney received an injury boost with news that captain Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Earls are set to feature for Ireland when they take on South Africa in Saturday’s opening Test at the Aviva Stadium.

Kidney’s 30-man squad is due to be reduced to a match day 22 tomorrow and O’Driscoll and Earls appear to have overcome their respective hamstring and ankle injuries.

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton was hopeful both will take part in this week’s training sessions with a view to being ready to take on the Springboks at the weekend.

Shane Horgan, Issac Boss, Mike Ross and Bret Wilkinson were some of the players released to their provinces for Magners League action last week and the quartet have been left out for Ireland’s opening Test of the autumn series.

Ireland squad (v South Africa): R Best, T Bowe, T Buckley, T Court, S Cronin, G D’Arcy, G Duffy, K Earls, S Ferris, L Fitzgerald, J Hayes, C Healy, J Heaslip, R Kearney, D Leamy, J Muldoon, J Murphy, D O’Callaghan, R O’Gara, S O’Brien, B O’Driscoll, M O’Driscoll, E Reddan, D Ryans, J Sexton, P Stringer, D Toner, A Trimble, D Wallace, P Wallace

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