Tomorrow's Bledisloe Cup rugby union international between New Zealand and Australia, to be played at the Hong Kong Stadium, will not be shown live on television in the city, to boost ticket sales.
The Australia Network, which has shown this year's three previous Bledisloe Cup matches between the sides, confirmed it would not be showing the game live at 4.30pm, but would screen it from 6.30pm.
'I have been advised that the Bledisloe Cup is shown exclusively on Australia Network and not from any other satellite channel in Asia,' Australia Network spokesman Elliott McKenna said. 'Unfortunately, our contract restriction with the Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union requires a two-hour delay, as they wanted as many people as possible to go to the game.'
When a Bledisloe Cup match was first played in the city two years ago, it was also not shown live. The difference this time is that while there was a full house in 2008, ticket sales have been slow for tomorrow's clash. As of yesterday, about 25,000 tickets were sold. The stadium capacity is 40,000. The prices - HK$880, HK$1,000 and HK$1,250 - have deterred some spectators, but Hong Kong Rugby Union chairman Trevor Gregory is optimistic that the absence of live coverage will encourage more fans to turn out.
'There are bound to be people who don't realise that they can't go down to the pub to watch the match live. Hopefully, once this message gets through, they will buy a ticket and go to the stadium instead.'
He was confident the pitch would not be a problem tomorrow after it was cut up two years ago. 'I'm sure the pitch will be in good condition.'