The general public ticket sale for the 2023 Rugby World Cup opened with a bang on April 6, with the entirety of the 350,000 available tickets selling out in less than five hours. In fact, the interest was so high that a new record was achieved when up to 4,000 tickets were sold in one minute, beating the previous record of 1,000 tickets sold per minute in a previous round of sales in mid-March.
France is gearing up to host the hotly anticipated tenth edition of the Rugby World Cup, scheduled from September 8th to October 28th 2023 across 10 different host cities, and nine different stadiums, from Paris to Bordeaux. The World Cup will kick off with an explosive opening fixture that is pitting France against the last world cup’s bronze medallist New Zealand. Throughout the month and a half of back-to-back games, 20 rugby nations will compete for the title.
After more than a year of life under Covid-19, the week’s ticket storm on the tickets is not surprising. As rugby fans the world over are looking forward to a time when visiting live sport events will be possible once more, rather than having to make do with televised matches and recorded cheers – if the matches were even held in the first place. In light of this, for those who were unlucky the first time and second times during the presale, the third and final batch of tickets for the knockout phases will be made available to the public in autumn 2021.
Demand has never been so high during any other Rugby World Cup, and this is particularly demonstrated by the ticket sales which have broken records before the matches have even begun, according to the organisers. As the France 2023 Organising Committee CEO Claude Atcher confirmed to the leading French sports paper, L’Équipe, “no World Cup or any sporting event had ever been met with such success and aroused such collective enthusiasm.”
Indeed, observers who have crunched the numbers predict that France is well on track to beat the previous record for World Cup attendance set by Japan in 2019. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first international rugby match, it is becoming evident that the unusually high number of requests for tickets from the fans are a result of the global interest for rugby which has been climbing exponentially for years. As a reflection of the ever-growing Rugby-mania, no less than 2.6 million tickets will be available to international fans. Given that many eager fans have already scooped up many of the available tickets, there is a good chance that the rest of the tickets will be snapped up just as quickly.
Looking forward to 2023
With this many fans assured a seat in the stands, there are inevitable blunders. The manic rush on tickets unfortunately caused a brief log jam on the event website, leading to longer than anticipated waiting times that left some British fans feeling frustrated. France 2023 decided upon a “first come, first served” system – rather than a lottery ballot more commonly used for UK sporting events – in order to provide the fairest and most transparent allocation of tickets possible.
The success of the RWC2023 ticket sale reflects the widespread hope that vaccines, better informed public health policies, and sensitised citizens will return some normality to everyday life sooner rather than later. A white paper entitled the ‘Global Reach of Rugby 2019’ found that the sport is associated with “team work, discipline and fair play”. So it is no wonder that rugby fans have, therefore, joined the masses of those planning future experiences in the wake of many months of isolation and inequality.
The World Cup gives people one more reason to feel hopeful after a particularly tough year. With tickets in hands the event is now tangible and the excitement will only continue to mount. The sold-out seats are just the latest indication that this quadrennial sporting bonanza is well on the way to being a huge success.