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British & Irish Lions rugby head coach Warren Gatland with his captain Sam Warburton. Photo: AP

Lions to get Hong Kong stadium rocking as sales surge

Announcement of squad creates big demand for tickets to Barbarians clash

A "huge surge" in interest since the 37-strong British and Irish Lions squad was named on Tuesday has raised prospects of a full-house and a mini-Hong Kong Sevens atmosphere when the famous touring side take on the Barbarians at Hong Kong Stadium on June 1.

Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory said yesterday "the stadium will be rocking" and was confident of matching the sell-out scenario of the Sevens.

While tickets for the three tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney sold out in 15 minutes, demand for the historic offshore meeting against the Barbarians had been sluggish.

But Gregory said there had been a spike in interest since the Sam Warburton-led squad was named and also the inclusion of Hong Kong winger Rowan Varty in the Barbarians line-up.

"We have been inundated with requests for tickets and there is a serious chance of tickets selling out," said Gregory.

"There has been a huge surge and we are well ahead of where we expected to be at this point of time."

Gregory said he did not have the exact number of tickets sold for the 40,000-seater stadium.

Initial estimates put travelling fans at 10,000 and the HKRFU is confident this number will turn up to watch Lions head coach Warren Gatland get the campaign off with a bang in an attempt to win a series for the first time since 1997.

More than 25,000 tickets are available for Hong Kong residents with 15,000 going to local rugby clubs and the balance of 10,000 for the general public.

Tickets are priced at HK$1,290 (gold), HK$1,000 (silver) and HK$750 (bronze). In addition, tickets for the Lions den - the South Stand - will cost HK$1,100.

The last time a rugby international was held in Hong Kong, the 2010 Bledisloe Cup encounter, only 26,210 fans paid to watch the All Blacks take on the Wallabies, resulting in the HKRFU losing millions of dollars.

But with this being the first time the Lions will be appearing and also with the presence of Hong Kong sevens captain Varty in the Barbarians line-up, organisers are confident the match will be a box office success.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Lions to get HK stadium rocking as sales surge