Irish fans in mad dash to swap quarter-final tickets

Irish fans in mad dash to swap quarter-final tickets
Jamie Lennon, originally from Sunday’s Well in Cork, pictured with Noburu Kato from Tokyo after they exchanged tickets for this weekend’s World Cup quarter-final matches. Picture courtesy of Jamie Lennon.

Japan's defeat of Ireland in Shizuoka in Pool A threw the best-laid plans of thousands of supporters, many of them Irish, up in the air given the assumption that Joe Schmidt's side would top the group and play the runner-up from Pool B on Sunday.

Not now. Ireland's second-place finish behind the hosts has directed the Six Nations side towards a last-eight tie against New Zealand on Saturday instead and the unexpected turn of events has led to a mad scramble by many who had gambled on buying tickets for the Sunday game.

Social media has been awash with Irish people searching for a solution. A number of Facebook groups have been established and a ticket-trading event set up which will take place near Asakusa Station between 6pm and 9pm tomorrow evening Japanese time.

Interest has been so strong that the location has been changed to a pedestrian street nearby.

Fans have been advised to bring their passports to confirm their identities and provide details of their account with Rugby World Cup in order to prove their bona fides, but many purchased etickets which can be printed any number of times and therefore more difficult to vouch for.

World Rugby has directed frantic fans towards their own official ticketing site but the queue of people striving to use it has been causing considerable delays and there is no means of swapping tickets, just selling them and hoping to buy others.

That's no use given both games in the capital are sell-outs.

Jamie Lennon was one Irish fan stumped by this change of events.

Originally from Sunday's Well but now living in Dubai, he was left deeply frustrated by his attempts to sort out a solution via the tournament's ticketing service. Like so many others, he threw himself into the social media maze to find an answer before he left the Middle East this week.

With six Category A etickets for sale, his chances were slim but Lennon got lucky when he was contacted by a Japanese fan almost immediately who was looking to swap four for the Saturday. Even better was the fact that the man, Noburu Kato, worked just two minutes around the corner from his hotel.

A result in itself given the size of Tokyo.

“He used to work in London and he got into rugby through his son who played it over there,” Lennon told the Irish Examiner. “He even had physical tickets whereas I only had mine printed on a PDF so he was taking more of a risk. What an absolute gent of a man.”

Lennon isn't the first visitor to Japan to have personal experience of the people's hospitality and trust over here but no amount of goodwill and ingenuity will be enough to solve everyone's predicament. Expect a huge Irish presence when Japan take on South Africa.

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