The RFU is failing to stop the re-sale of Twickenham tickets for extortionate prices on online exchange websites.
At least 85 tickets were being sold on ticket site viagogo for prices in excess of £600 for England’s final Six Nations clash against Ireland on Saturday.
They were not alone, as selling site Gumtree also had a pair of tickets with a face value of £125 each being sold for £2000.
This is despite the fact that the RFU has banned the re-sale of tickets on online exchange websites, claiming fans would be turned away from the ground if they were found in possession of the tickets.
A spokesman for the RFU said:“The England vs Ireland match at Twickenham was sold out, and had been for a long time. There is huge interest in the match.
“Our stance on the secondary market is very clear – Twickenham tickets cannot be sold on secondary websites. It is a clear breach of our ticketing terms and conditions, and we are constantly monitoring the marketplace.
“Our message to rugby fans is clear – don’t risk your money by purchasing tickets from a secondary site because if you do, there is a good chance you won’t be able to get in.
“As ever, we want tickets to go to rugby fans who want to come to the match – and not to people who want to trade them as a commodity.”
After the match, The RFU confirmed that a ‘small number’ of supporters in possession of second-hand tickets were turned away from Twickenham over the weekend.
Over 82,000 were in attendance to witness Ireland seal a Grand Slam with a 24-15 victory of England.
When the RFU’s stance was put to ticketing site viagogo, they pointed us to their FAQ site, where it dismisses the legality of the RFU’s claim that they can stop fans from entering the ground.
Their website reads: “The tickets sold on viagogo’s platform are genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith.
“Event organisers sometimes make claims that they will deny entry to people who have purchased resold tickets. These types of entry restrictions are highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal.
“Therefore, as with all tickets on our platform, viagogo customers should feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the viagogo guarantee.”
The site also promises to refund those who were turned away at the door. Viagogo declined to make any further statement. Gumtree were also contacted but did not offer any comment.
Secondary ticket sales remains a hot topic of debate, especially as many prices are hiked-up by opportunist vendors.
Ahead of England vs Ireland, viagogo played host to tickets on sale in Section L for £792 and £797, while one ticket in U8 sold for £746.
Supporters though are divided about whether sites like viagogo are a good or a bad thing for sport.
One supporter outside the ground on Saturday said: “People can drive the prices up really really high, because people are desperate to buy the tickets.
“But you can’t necessarily stop it, because if people want to pay that money for their ticket then that’s their choice.”
Another fan took a different stance. He said: “I think it’s appalling. I think it should be done through regulated sites and regulated through rugby clubs, so the fans actually get them rather than corporate tickets.”
One side-effect is the impact online re-selling is having on ticket touts patrolling the stadiums before kick-off.
They are a common sight at most sports ground, and while illegal without having a traders license, the impact of online selling platforms is pricing them all out of the market.
One tout, speaking confidentially, said that fans were now quoting them the prices they had seen online, making it almost impossible to do business.
The RFU launched their own ticket-exchange service late last year in order to undercut the re-sale market.
It was also reported in the Daily Mail that Rugby’s governing body would name and shame those buying second-hand tickets from exchange sites.
Yet despite these efforts, it appears that online ticket touting remains a potent problem for the RFU.