Pricey World Cup Sevens set to be a sellout
Organisers of next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens yesterday predicted an early sellout - despite tickets costing $1,000.
A 33 per cent price hike was confirmed yesterday by Hong Kong Rugby Football Union executive director Allan Payne, who also announced a new ticketing scheme for the March 18-20 showpiece.
'We're pretty comfortable with asking people to pay more,' Payne said. 'There will be 81 games, compared with 57 at a normal Hong Kong Sevens. To stage a World Cup event you need the machinery - more referees, touch judges, citing officials, judiciary officials and a host of other officials. .
'We also have to pay a franchise fee to the IRB [International Rugby Board] which is a lot more than the Hong Kong Sevens,' Payne said. 'And then we have various guests and other VIPs.'
The $1,000 price for adults and $350 for children (12 and under) is the same as the 1997 Rugby World Cup Sevens which Hong Kong hosted. 'It's a fine balance to get the price right and I feel we have,' he said.
He advised fans to get in early when tickets go on sale in November as he predicted an early sellout. The first indicator is the corporate response to suites and Payne said all previous box holders had 'let it be known they want them back. And there is a waiting list. I don't want to appear over-optimistic, but they could all be taken in the next two or three weeks,' he said.
Tickets will be sold first to playing or social members of Hong Kong rugby member clubs and members of the HKRFU's social club, the Rugby Union Club. There will be a limit of two tickets per member. Tickets will not be available on the internet.
'This ticket allocation policy guarantees Hong Kong supporters are properly catered for,' Payne said. The rest of the tickets will go to overseas travel agents, sponsors, patrons, suite holders, officialdom, and an IRB allocation.
He estimated 5,000 to 8,000 tickets would be left to go on general sale to the Hong Kong public. 'At the end of the day there may be some disappointed people.'
Twelve countries have already qualified for the 24-team tournament. Hong Kong qualify automatically as hosts, with New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, England, Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Samoa pencilled in from the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Argentina.
Tonga, Uruguay and the United States have since added their names to the list and Kenya are favourites to join them this weekend after a regional qualifier in Zambia. Seven European teams, three Asian sides and one more African team will make up the mix.
The 24 teams will be split into four pools of six, compared with the Hong Kong Sevens which has six pools of four. Teams will play three times on Friday, meaning play will start at 8:15am.