RFU banks record £15m windfall from All Black visit
Redeveloped East Stand hospitality boosts profits Top tickets priced at £1,345 for glamour tie
RUGBY NEWS CORRESPONDENT
The Rugby Football Union will receive record total revenue of close to £15 million for what is expected to be the most lucrative Test match outside the World Cup when England face New Zealand at Twickenham today.
The demand is such that the RFU has sold out its 6,500-capacity corporate hospitality facility in the new £81million East Stand, including all 1,000 of the most expensive tickets, which cost £1,345 (plus VAT) each.
The RFU’S decision to raise 8,000 of its premium match tickets to a record price of £195 has also not deterred supporters, with an 82,000 capacity guaranteed months ago for the first meeting of the sides since 2014.
On secondary market websites yesterday, tickets were selling for as much as £1,070, without any hospitality.
In the year that the RFU has made more than 60 members of staff redundant in cost-cutting measures, the extra revenue will be welcome. Previously, such Tests generated around £10 million.
The increase is in part offset by rising costs, including the redevelopment of the East Stand, which rose from an original budget of £54million to more than £80million, largely because of fire-safety requirements in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and extra security requirements.
However, Steven Brown, the RFU chief executive, told Telegraph Sport that the extra income would have major implications for funding for the game.
The debt to finance the redevelopment is set to be paid off by 2023 and the stand is expected to generate a profit within seven years.
“It was already going to be a big match for us before we had the [new East Stand] hospitality and if you add that back in, it is going to be extremely big, one of the biggest we have had, no question,” said Brown, who was also in charge of the organising company when the RFU hosted the 2015 World Cup final at Twickenham.
“Building something this scale and size, which houses 6,500 people for hospitality for this weekend, is something special and potentially pretty unique.
“We are opening five of the biggest restaurants, probably in Europe, this weekend, with hundreds of chefs and thousands of staff working to deliver something quite spectacular and special for one of the biggest rugby games in the calendar. This generates substantial increase in our income for the RFU through our Twickenham Experience joint venture with Compass [the hospitality company] and it gives us additional revenue to consider for reinvestment across the game.
“In the past, when some of this hospitality was not within the footprint of the RFU and Twickenham, other people were making money on that. Now we have a new system where people come to our facility, they have a great time, the bestquality experience that they can have, and the RFU generates profits that go straight back into the game.”
Brown defended the decision to raise the cost of the most expensive tickets for the match.
“It is part of an overall balance between ensuring we get the best value we can from the market in a high-demand situation but also that Number of chefs in the East Stand for today’s game. Diners eating in the new East Stand today.
we do provide for children’s tickets, and 4,000 have been made available for each of the four games,” Brown added.
“And as a part of our overall ticketing pricing strategy, we have considered where else we have games in the country – you have seen we have announced that we are going to be playing in Newcastle in the World Cup warm-ups.
“So, while we generate more revenue from having higher ticket prices, where the demand is there for that, it also helps us fund getting kids in to watch the game and for other parts of the country to see England playing rugby on an international stage.
“The one thing we cannot do anything about is that there are millions of people who want to buy tickets to see England play at Twickenham in these big international matches and we don’t have a stadium big enough to house them, so we have to balance all those requirements off and try to get as much inclusion as we can – and remember the clubs still get half the tickets and they pay a different price to those sold publicly.”
Steve Hansen, the All Blacks coach, suggested earlier in the week that the finances of international rugby would be helped if the RFU shared the gate receipts with teams visiting Twickenham for such highprofile Test matches. Brown, however, dismissed the idea.