THE Irish Rugby Football Union has been accused of endangering the future of clubs throughout the country because of its international match-ticket policy.
Young Munster club President Derek Tobin has charged the IRFU with reckless-behaviour by the imposition of penalties on clubs unable to sell their entire ticket allocation in the current recession.
Mr Tobin, a former Munster scrum half who played in the province’s famous 1992 victory over the then world champions Australia at Musgrave Park, was speaking at Temple Hill before the Cork Constitution – Young Munster AIL game on Saturday.
“We are being asked to meet a challenge that’s unprecedented. We have every business sector in the country cutting costs by 20 and 30% while the IRFU are increasing costs (ticket prices) by 20 and 30%.
“On top of that, they are looking for cash in advance and that’s unjustified; how can clubs continue to meet that demand in the current climate?
Mr Tobin argued that the game was slipping away from its grassroots as he pointed to the unacceptable cost of supporting the international team, particularly for fans travelling from outside of Dublin.
“If you want to go to Dublin for an international these days, if you want to bring your wife, your family or even maybe stay overnight then you’re going to have to equate that with the cost of a foreign sun holiday. You’ll get a week, maybe two weeks in the sun for what it’s going to cost to spend a night in Dublin and attend a rugby match.
“The IRFU will need to take heed of what the clubs are saying and they need to give us a break from what’s going on.”
The financial burden on the individual clubs would vary, said Mr Tobin. “It depends of course on the ticket allocation and it could involve a huge financial commitment for some clubs. The Union want the money for this allocation paid for in advance before the clubs can sell them and the penalty, if you can’t fulfil that, is a deduction of tickets for what would have to be the more valuable games, because they’re competitive matches, in the Six Nations.
“Therefore, the clubs are actually going to be penalised if they can’t sell their allocation or if they look to return tickets to the Union.”
He continued: “Maybe it is too late to get progress on it now; the progress should have started when the Union looked at the fixture list. With all due respect to Samoa, it was wrong to put that fixture into the Aviva Stadium for a whole host of reasons; we (Ireland) played the (South Sea) Islanders in the RDS last year, so surely that fixture could have been fixed for Thomond Park or Ravenhill, somewhere outside of Dublin, where you will get a local interest and fill the stadium.
“Again, with due credit to them, the two big fixtures are South Africa and New Zealand and they are the two games that people would be prepared to travel to.
“Even at that, there is still a reluctance because the cost implications of people travelling for these games is onerous; it’s time to get real because if you add up the figures, a couple would have to shell out as much as €700 for tickets, hotels, transportation and spending money.”
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