Competition for tickets to the Hong Kong Sevens could be as fierce as the rugby on the pitch after it was announced yesterday that only 3,000 tickets for next year's event will be available via public ballot. The figure is down from 4,000 this year and 5,000 in 2011, while the capacity of the Hong Kong Stadium is 40,000. Some fans were unhappy and said the number of corporate tickets should be cut. Supporter Andrew Massey said only one out of 20 of his friends got tickets via the ballot this year, with a total of 50,000 applications received. He said: "It is extremely questionable whether the corporate sponsorship generates greater benefit for the game than would a full public sale of the tickets without the whole gravy train that exists only for the benefit of those least interested in the event and sport in general." Trevor Gregory, chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, said: "With the increasing growth in numbers in Hong Kong Rugby and demand far outstripping the capacity of our stadium, an increased allocation of tickets has again been provided to members of local rugby clubs and HKRFU stakeholders, with an accompanying reduction in the number of tickets for public sale." Interest in the sport is booming. The number of players at youth, senior and mini-rugby clubs grew 10 per cent in the past year, Gregory said, and the union had to ensure players and supporters had access to the Sevens. "For those that cannot access tickets we feel the best way to have access in future is by joining local rugby clubs as a player or supporter," he said. There are now 56 rugby clubs and around 10,000 registered players. Club membership normally costs HK$500 to HK$1,000. To allow more fans to attend, they can buy tickets for any of the three days of the event rather than having to buy a three-day package as in the past, the union said. A three-day ticket will cost HK$1,500, the same as last year. Even rugby clubs have difficulties in getting tickets, said Jung Ho-jung, head coach of the Tin Shui Wai Rugby Football Club. The club has doubled the number of its teams to four this year, but only 70 per cent of members got tickets this year. "Sevens tickets are important for a club's development," he said. "Reserving a Sevens ticket is the biggest draw for one to join as a member … The biggest solution [to the ticket shortage] is to have a new stadium."