Cup ticket sales still $30m short

By Derek Cheng

Rugby World Cup 2011 match tickets. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Rugby World Cup 2011 match tickets. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Rugby World Cup officials are pegging their hopes to a late upsurge in ticket sales - propelled by a strong performance by Australia in the tournament - to push ticket sales towards the $268 million target.

In the latest update on ticket sales, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said he was comfortable with how sales were tracking, and they were "pretty much on target".

With 17 days to go until the start of the tournament, and 42 days for the tournament to run, ticket sales were still $30.5 million short of the target.

If ticket sales reach target, New Zealand will still lose $39 million - shared by the Government and the NZ Rugby Union.

Mr McCully will tonight head to Australia for three days to try and spark more interest in the tournament - with some high-level help.

Australia rugby great John Eales will join Mr McCully at a breakfast function in Brisbane. Mr McCully will then head to a function in Canberra, where he will address several Australian MPs and leaders in the sporting community, and finally head to Sydney for a luncheon.

A strong performance in the tournament by Australia would boost interest across the Tasman, he said.

He and Prime Minister John Key have previously said a trans-Tasman final would be an ideal scenario.

The focus of ticket sales was now firmly on Australia and New Zealand, and Mr McCully said it was common for Kiwis to buy tickets in the final lead-up to games, and interest will continue to swell as the tournament begins and host cities spring to life.

Since the last update a fortnight ago, 20,000 tickets worth $4 million had been sold.

There were still 200,000 tickets worth about $60 million available.

The final, the All Blacks versus France and the South Africa-Samoa game had all sold out. The France-Canada match in Napier and the Italy-USA game in Nelson had almost sold out.

Mr McCully also announced that the Australian and England squads had each planned a day of activities in Christchurch to support the earthquake-ravaged city. Both teams were going to base themselves in the city during the tournament before the earthquakes struck.

England will spend September 7 in the city. Australia will spend September 28 there.

- NZ Herald

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