James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Rage as scalpers cash in on Super 15

Angry Chiefs fans have vented their outrage against scalpers and are demanding a new ticket provider after tickets to Saturday night's Super 15 rugby final were snapped up yesterday in less than two hours.

Dozens of fans aimed their venom at scalpers, some of whom had tickets online at highly inflated prices yesterday while people were still queuing outside Waikato Stadium for tickets to the big game, between the Chiefs and the Sharks from South Africa.

One trader, kieranb1987, ran several auctions. In one, he sold four $20 tickets for $1010.

This earned him a barrage of abuse including from one Chiefs fan who wrote "burn in hell!!! its people like you people like me cant get tickets you selfish piece of s***".

Another trader, jojo557, also incurred the wrath of angry fans unable to secure tickets as he tried to sell two $20 "green zone" tickets.

By 4pm yesterday, bids on his tickets had reached $395.

People are legally allowed to sell their tickets on Trade Me because the Super 15 final is not covered by the Major Events Act.

The act was passed before last year's Rugby World Cup to ban scalping of tickets to events which attract a large number of international participants, spectators and media, generate tourism opportunities and raise New Zealand's international profile.

An application must be made to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment but a ministry spokesman said no application had been made for the Super 15 final.

Some fans directed their anger at ticket provider TicketDirect, many complaining of waits of more than two hours to find out whether they could get get tickets - even after the 25,800-seat stadium had sold out shortly before 10am yesterday.

This prompted a group to start an online petition demanding that the Chiefs and Waikato Rugby Union not to use Ticket Direct.

"If their online system can't handle it, they shouldn't be allowed to sell the tickets. TicketDirect is quite pathetic," said Yasmin Roa.

TicketDirect did not return Herald calls or emails but Chiefs commercial and marketing manager Sean Austin believed the delays were "unfortunately a product of the massive demand and scarcity factor".

"I believe the problems we had were purely about demand and no matter what ticketing agent we were with I think we would have had the same problems," he said.

"We will be reviewing how we have gone to market for such a big event and see if we can make improvements."

Early yesterday a long queue of Chiefs fans some wrapped in blankets and armed with thermoses and books stretched 300m metres from the Waikato Stadium's ticketing booths.

Among the fist to arrive was father of three Koro Samuels, a devout Chiefs fan, who parked his van outside the stadium ticket booth about 2am yesterday.

He was settling in for a long wait with his 13-year-old son Taipohu in his van but was told by security staff to move his vehicle.

"So I went over to the bus stop where I parked up but I fell asleep," he said.

"The next thing, I woke up at about 5am and there were people in my place."

Mr Samuels was able to buy five tickets for the game - which he is confident the Chiefs will win.

- NZ Herald

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