Imaginative IRFU deserves full praise for money-saving ticket offers
It's hardly surprising that Ireland's Test against New Zealand will be the first of next month's three Guinness Series Tests to sell out.
As well as being World Cup holders, the All Blacks have just retained their Four Nations Championship title after outscoring South Africa by five tries to four to win an Ellis Park thriller by a 38-27 margin.
But how good to see the IRFU showing imagination by acknowledging reality with regards to the other matches – against Samoa and Australia on November 9 and November 16 respectively (both KO 5.45pm).
The initiative in offering €400(£337 approx) to rugby clubs to offset their travel costs to the Samoa game deserves recognition. That is available to groups of adults, or adults/children, the only requirement being that they inform the IRFU of their intention to travel as a party of 45 or more.
Money is tight at the moment so the IRFU's acknowledgement of that fact is praiseworthy, as is the vision they have shown in trying to recruit a future generation of international rugby spectators. Teach 'em young and you've taught 'em forever et al ...
The decision to sell tickets in two or three-match batches is clever, too. Despite the price of watching the ABs – €32.50 (£28) upwards – shifting tickets for that one was never going to be difficult. The Kiwis are box-office certainties; how could it be otherwise, for who else provides pre-match entertainment in the form of the Haka before unveiling the greatest array of rugby skills on the planet?
So rather than offering tickets for that eagerly-awaited November 24 showpiece as a one-off, the IRFU tied them in with tickets for one or both of the other fixtures.
That now-established norm has proved to a double-sided winner, for as well as boosting sales of tickets for matches in which there is less interest, simultaneously that tactic serves to reduce the administrative cost involved in selling those as one-off units. And with the price for a three-match package being €136 (£115) and two-match deals from €85.50 (£73), punters are doing well from it, too.