With the general public sale of tickets for the Rugby World Cup 2023 opening on Tuesday, April 6, sports fans the world over will be able to catch a first glimpse of normality and excitement in what many hope will be by then a post-corona world. To be held in France, the tenth edition of the Rugby Union World Cup is set to be a historical event, as it rings in the 200th anniversary of the “invention” of the sport by William Web Ellis in 1823.
To mark the event, and to account for the steadily growing interest in rugby across the globe, the organisers are offering a record 2.6 million tickets in the run-up to the event, sold in a broad two-phase process designed to provide as many places to eager rugby fans and in a manner as organized and fair as possible. Since March 15, pre-registered “Family” and MasterCard users have been able to obtain tickets. This first batch of tickets is available until April 5, with general sale kicking off the following day.
Fair and transparent phases
However, this approach – which differs from ticket sales used for other major sports event in that it “reserves” a batch of tickets to registered members rather than distributing them by public ballot or lottery – came under criticism, when the massive ticket-run briefly overwhelmed the sales website. Following 250,000 simultaneous connections and after selling up to 1,000 tickets per minute at one point, the website crashed for seven minutes, causing frustration among fans.
Even so, it’s important to stress that the principles of “fairness, accessibility and transparency” underpinning the system were never compromised, according to the CEO of France 2023, Claude Atcher. While acknowledging that some fans may be disappointed about what happened, he explained that France 2023 “deliberately wanted to open the website and the ticket sales to everyone at the same time”. Furthermore, World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont also commented that the phased approach was a deliberate choice for making France 2023 “the most accessible tournament to date.”
The world’s greatest World Cup?
In light of the more than 500,000 registrations for the pre-sale, an organisation spokesperson also elucidated that “the process was what we believed to be the fairest. We believe a ballot or lottery is not as fair as rewarding the people who show their motivation to sign up in advance.” As such, these difficulties notwithstanding, the overall success of the sales campaign so far is impressive and speaks for itself. According to estimates by the Rugby World Cup organisers, more than 300,000 tickets were sold on March 15 within twelve hours. Given that the competition is still two years away – scheduled to take place from September 8 to October 28, 2023 – observers estimate that no other sporting event had ever been met “with such success and aroused such collective enthusiasm.”
Indeed, if the overwhelming demand for tickets shows one thing, it is the desperate desire of countless people to return to normality and see their respective teams live on the field after more than a year of coronavirus-induced freeze. It’s therefore no surprise that the sales so far have far exceeded expectations, as well as those of previous World Cups.
As rugby fans the world over eagerly await the tournament, France 2023 is already breaking records before the event has even kicked off.