Poor ticket sales for the Tri-Nations have forced SA Rugby to launch an investigation.
The national body has been criticised for high ticket prices this season, especially during the Lions tour when Test tickets cost a staggering R1 140.
By last Friday, only 22 000 tickets had been sold for the Boks’ Tri-Nations opener against the All Blacks, although the Free State Rugby Union insists things have picked up this week.
In a press release on Tuesday, SA Rugby said it would re-evaluate its ticket-pricing strategy.
‘Ticket prices are always the first thing people look at but the fact is that ticket prices have been growing at less than the rate of inflation for the last five years,’ said Andy Marinos, acting MD of SA Rugby.
‘This year they have been frozen at 2008’s prices – R425 in the case of Bloemfontein – but sales have been weak despite the relatively low price and the excitement of a seeing a great Springbok generation take on the All Blacks.’
Marinos said that SA Rugby and the hosting unions were hopeful that the proximity of the series would see ticket sales pick up. Prices have also been reduced to R300 for some seats at Free State Stadium on Saturday.
‘We must acknowledge the impact of the global financial crisis and the delayed effect it has had in South Africa – particularly in the last quarter – but there may be other factors at play,’ said Marinos.
‘We have to ask ourselves, “why?” [ticket sales are so slow for the Tri-Nations]. It can’t be the event – we have one of the most decorated Springbok teams of all time that has just added a Lions series to a Rugby World Cup title and is very much at full strength with the potential to win the Tri-Nations.
‘Price may well be a factor in these hard times but the fact that people are not taking up the option of paid for tickets would suggest we’re seeing something else as well.’
Marinos said other sporting events like the IPL and Confederations Cup may also have had an impact on rugby attendances.
‘We have experienced an exceptional sporting year all of it crammed into the period before the start of the Vodacom Tri-Nations and what might be called “event-fatigue” may come into it,’ he said.