Readers of the SuperSite might remember that a few months back I called out the Irish Rugby Union for their scheme to raise money by forcing fans to purchase tickets to not just one international match this fall, but a package of the International matches taking place this November. I said back then it was a bad idea, and it looks like I was right. According to Scrum.com:
“Only 35,515 turned out to see Ireland lose 23-21 to South Africa in the first Test at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, leaving 16,000 empty seats at the newly-redeveloped Lansdowne Road.”
In bad economic times (Ireland being one of the hardest-hit European nations during the current financial crisis) the IRFU was probably lucky to land those 35K fans. The attendance was so bad that fly-half, new Irish test centenarian and hero Ronan O’Gara has been almost begging fans to upend the couch cushions, or go out and roll homeless folk for the pound coins in their pockets to support the national team.
O’Gara talked about the energy and atmosphere at the old Lansdowne Stadium, and how important it was to bring that energy back. They need the fans to do it, but the fans need to pay to keep a roof over their heads first.
So what’s Ireland to do?
Well I’m not a marketer or a PR person… oh wait, actually I am!
The Irish Rugby Football Union needs to pull their heads out of their asses and allow people to go to whichever games they damn well want to, and they need to cut the prices of the next two international matches – probably Australia and New Zealand, since the Samoa game is coming up too quickly to make these changes. By doing this, they’ll start to rebuild solid fan relations by showing that it’s more important to have fans at Lansdowne, than it is to force them to purchase tickets to games they might not even want. The fans will return, and with them money from their tickets and other in-stadium purchases, but it might take a short-term hit in ticket prices to make that happen.
Come on Irish rugby, get it together. You’ve asked the fans to “Save Irish Rugby,” now give them a reason to.