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Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of when Wales ruled and England were perennial whipping boys, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo
2015 Rugby World Cup
This is the modern world
Martin Williamson
November 27, 2013
Caught between a rock and a hard place... IRB boss Brett Gosper, tournament CEO Debbie Jevans and IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset clasp the World Cup © Getty Images
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The organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup are likely to face a barrage of moans after announcing the tournament's ticket prices. It is unlikely they expected anything less.

The reality for the general public is that they are increasingly being priced out of major global events such as this. We saw that with the Olympics last year. A majority are left with the choice of settling for the less glamorous ties - Canada v Europe 2 anyone, and even then at £60? - or sitting back and watching on TV.

Allowing a raft of cheap(er) tickets for those type of fixtures also allows tournament chief executive Debbie Jevans to boast "this tournament is accessible and affordable".

But the pricing is not the fault of the tournament organisers. It's partly a simple case of supply and demand - England v Fiji or the Cook Islands at £315 will almost certainly still sell out, but mainly down to the avarice of the IRB who demand increasingly large sums for the rights to host the World Cup.

The key dates

  • January 1, 2014 - Travelling fan packages go on sale
  • February 2, 2014 - Hospitality packages go on sale
  • May/June 2014 - Tickets on sale to fans through rugby clubs
  • September 2014 - General sale application process begins
  • November/December 2014 - Real time sale of remaining tickets

The organisers face a tough ask to turn a profit after meeting the IRB's demand for £80 million from selling 2.3 million tickets. That was made harder when Old Trafford withdrew as a host venue and they had to switch to Manchester City Stadium, robbing them of around 100,000 tickets at a stroke.

They have tried to offer concessions where possible. Children's seats for all Pool games are between £7 and £15, for example, and the cheapest adult seats are £15. Organisers say there are 200,000 seats available at under £20 but as ever the devil is in the detail. How many of those, for example, are for bigger games?

Aside from the prices, spare a thought for the fans in Asia and Australasia. Only two New Zealand matches and one Australian game take place at a time which does not mean them getting up in the middle of the night. Once into the knock-out stages, it's all overnight viewing. Even the final, which could have been staged at 8pm, is at 5pm.

One thing is for sure. There is no going back. So what is best is for people to moan, get it out of their systems and then accept we live in a world where the top end of the major sporting occasions are becoming the preserve of the wealthy. And then sit back and enjoy what should be a superb event … even if only watched on TV.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Managing Editor, ESPN EMEA Digital Media
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