The Rugby Football Union has defended ticket prices of £195 (NZ$384) for England's match against New Zealand in November, the highest at Twickenham outside of World Cup tournaments, by stating that every penny of profit will be ploughed back into the sport.
The rise from a top-end Six Nations price of £165 is counter-balanced by the fact that children's tickets will be offered for the first time – except for the most popular Six Nations fixtures – with the lowest price at £20. There are discounts for 50 per cent of the 82,000 tickets, with the most expensive New Zealand ticket reduced for members of rugby clubs to £160.
Even though the pricing categories have been set, the precise percentage of ticket categories in each tier, has not yet been disclosed.
RFU chief executive Steve Brown made no apology for looking to exploit the huge demand for the All Blacks game, as the union capitalises on the first meeting of the teams in four years.
"We are not here to make profit per se but to generate a return to be invested back into the game," said Brown, who also revealed that there would be around 8,000 free tickets offered to 16-24-year-old players registered at clubs for the England-Barbarians game at Twickenham on May 27.
"New Zealand is a blockbuster fixture and supply always outstrips demand for our games. Our research shows that we could have priced every ticket at £195 and still sold out. The demand is exceptional. As it is, we get 1.5-2.5 million inquiries for tickets for big matches. Twickenham has become a big event."
Despite the "double-digit millions" raised in revenue for matches, Brown has held true to his pledge to take one Test a year away from Twickenham, probably a 2019 World Cup warm-up match, a loss-leader as the union tries to reach out into the neglected North. It is an about-turn in approach from his predecessor.
"I said in the 2015 World Cup we shouldn't rule it out and although we don't want to lose our shirt by doing it, we wouldn't be making a ton of money," said Brown, who does not dismiss the notion that England might host a Six Nations game there.
"That would be tricky because that is a tournament and I would rather treat this as a test. I wouldn't completely rule it out but there is a lot more we have to do."
The chief executive gave his full backing to Eddie Jones to return England to winning ways and admitted that a longlist of potential successors to the head coach (whose contract has been extended to 2021 so that he can mentor his replacement) was being drawn up.
"We are confident that Eddie will return us to a good place in 2019," said Brown, who stressed that he had full confidence in the RFU's legal position were Jones to pick New Zealand-based Brad Shields for the tour to South Africa. "It would be a fairly routine situation under Regulation Nine (overseas-player release). We shouldn't constrain ourselves from a performance perspective by not picking these players."