An open letter to the ARU: Don’t lock fans out of Wallabies Tests
By Sam Ryan
To Mr Pulver and the ARU,
On Saturday, the Wallabies attracted their smallest crowd since rugby went professional. Just over 13,000 fans turned up in Melbourne, even though the match was played on a Saturday afternoon of a long weekend to draw a family friendly crowd.
Yes, the Wallabies played well and look to be heading in the right direction, but not many were there to see it. It was another lost opportunity for Australian rugby and we can’t afford many more.
This weekend, Michael Cheika’s side heads to Sydney to play Scotland and from all reports, tickets sales aren’t great either.
So why not use Saturday’s Test as a line in the sand moment. Take the opportunity to show you truly do care about the future of the game and its real stakeholders.
At the moment, the cheapest ticket on offer is $71 for adults and $36 for kids. Now we know that these Tests are important for the ARU and one of the few opportunities you have to raise some much needed revenue.
But right now, $71 to sit behind the posts and watch a Scotland side without a handful of their best players seems a little steep.
Particularly after the year we’ve had.
Instead of filling half the stadium on Saturday, why not offer discounted tickets to registered rugby players and their families. $10 for kids and $30 for adults.
No, it’s not going to solve your cash flow problems and it’s not going to fix Australian rugby’s woes overnight.
But it’s a step in the right direction. It shows the grassroots rugby community that you really do care.
As a 7-year old boy, one of my greatest memories was singing Waltzing Matilda with John Williamson and 110,000 fans before the Wallabies faced the All Blacks in the greatest game of rugby ever played.
I fell in love with the sport that night and I’ve been stuck ever since.
This weekend you can give thousands of boys and girls in Sydney a similar opportunity. Or those seats can stay empty!
It’s not just about inspiring the next generation either. You also need to fight to win back the support of those who have fallen out of love with the game in recent years. I know plenty of them.
What better way to do so, then to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon enjoying a few beers while watching the Wallabies play attacking rugby against the Scots.
It’s the perfect opportunity but at the moment, most rugby fans need a bit of a push and a few reasonably priced tickets might do it.
As I said earlier, this isn’t going to solve your short-term problems. But either is a half empty stadium. Let’s start looking at the bigger picture.
Use this weekend and next weekend up in Brisbane to try and win back the hearts and minds of the grassroots rugby community.
Instead of handing out freebies to corporate partners, give kids who may not usually get an opportunity a chance to watch a Test match for the very first time.
I promise you, it’s an experience they’ll never forget.
We’ve all got a lot of work to do if we want to get rugby in Australia back to where it should be and this is one way you could start.
Help remind us why we love rugby and the Wallabies. It’s in all of our best interests.
Yours in rugby,