Unpaid anthem singers at four showpiece matches will not get promised free entry.

Choir members singing the national anthems at the Rugby World Cup's showpiece matches have been left "gutted" after organisers decided not to give them tickets.

The volunteer performers were told they would receive a match ticket, but that later changed and one singer has quit in protest. Another, who asked not to be named, told the Herald performers were "gutted" they would now be chaperoned from stadiums following their performance.

"It is disappointing. Because obviously everyone is doing this for the experience. No one's getting paid or anything. It would have been quite nice to have been recognised in that way.

"It's the way that it was handled - there was an expectation raised, and we've already started the WC, and it's only then that they've actually changed their minds."


The New Zealand Choral Federation (NZCF) was asked by tournament organisers Rugby NZ 2011 to put together 48 choirs, each made up of about 30 members, to sing national anthems before matches.

When about 1000 people auditioned nationwide they were given no guarantees in regards to tickets, but later NZCF told those selected they would receive a match ticket.

However, choirs for the New Zealand-France pool match, semifinals and final were informed last week they would not receive tickets.

Rugby NZ 2011 spokesman Shane Harmon said when an allocation of choir tickets was "formalised" tickets could not be made available for the matches with heaviest demand.

With the number of choir members rising to 45 for the semifinals and finals, those tickets are worth about $48,000.

Mr Harmon said tickets were provided for 44 of the cup's 48 matches, including matches such as New Zealand versus Tonga, New Zealand versus Japan and Australia versus Ireland.

"Only about a dozen singers of the 500 singers we have recruited won't be singing at any other match except [the four where tickets were not provided].

"We appreciate their contribution and will be offering them tickets to one of the remaining Auckland matches."


NZCF artistic director John Rosser would not comment on the allocation of tickets because of an ongoing relationship with RWC organisers.

He said choirs performing in the finals contained the strongest singers and while the location of most performers was taken into account, some would travel to attend matches.

"It's a long process to have to download and learn the anthems and the pronunciation and all of that sort of thing by themselves.

"But I've just had so many 'best experience of my life' comments from choir members ... They've had a fantastic experience."