/ Money, Travel & Leisure

The Great British rugby ‘rip-off’ for Lions fans

British & Irish Lions rugby team playing against Australia

Why do I have to pay thousands to see the British & Irish Lions play when the Aussies pay £61 (AU$95) for a test match ticket? Shouldn’t we be able to buy tickets at face-value prices?

I’m a Lions fan and I’ve travelled something like 70,000 miles to watch the team since 1997. But I won’t be going to watch the 2013 tour in Australia because of the extortionate prices the Lions are charging their fans to watch them play.

If I wanted to go to Australia to watch the three Lions rugby test matches this summer, I’d need to pay Lions Rugby Travel – the official travel company for the Lions – £2,499 for a flight to-and-from Australia and three tickets to the test matches. They throw in a £50 Lions rugby shirt for ‘free’, but the £2,499 price doesn’t include accommodation – you’ll need to pay more for that.

But if I was allowed to buy the tickets at face-value prices, as the Aussies will be able to, I could buy three tickets online for £183 and a return flight to Australia with internal flights for £982. That would result in a total cost of £1,165 – a saving of £1,334 on the official price.

Are Lions rugby tickets value for money?

The problem for British and Irish supporters is that cheap match tickets are kept well out of reach by the Lions. You can’t simply buy a match ticket for this summer’s Lions tour of Australia – Australian ticket sellers won’t sell to anyone who doesn’t have an Aussie address. Instead, you’ll need to buy expensive official flight or holiday packages through the Lions themselves or agents appointed by them.

Justin Hopwood of Lions Rugby Travel told us:

‘Official Lions packages are protected to give consumers financial security and peace of mind. There are a range of ticket options to choose from, and we strongly believe the official packages represent value for money when compared to other major sporting events.’

I understand that the Lions need to find money to fund the tour and that flying a huge squad and support staff half-way round the world doesn’t come cheap. And it’s not like the Lions have dozens of fixtures every year to raise revenue from. But it shouldn’t be the fans who foot this much of the bill for their tours.

The Lions are sponsored by HSBC, their kit is made by Adidas, the famous red shirts will sell in their thousands and their games are shown exclusively on Sky. So there are other routes for the Lions to make money.

Other sports don’t choose to hit their supporters in the pocket like this – for the football world cup or the rugby world cup, anyone in the world could buy tickets at face value online. If you want to go to see the Lord’s test vs Australia this year, you only have to enter the ballot to have a chance of getting a ticket. The same can be said of Wimbledon.

How to get cheap Lions rugby tickets

The way the Lions are selling their tickets is unfair to rugby fans – British and Irish supporters are being charged prices usually reserved for corporate hospitality tickets, while Aussies can just log on and buy the tickets they want.

If you want to see the Lions for a lot less than the cost of the official package, ask friends and family in Australia to buy your tickets for you from 9am on Monday 18 February when tickets go on sale from Proticket, Ticketek and the Australian Ticketmaster site. They’ll need an Australian address and the tickets will be sent out in May.

What do you think? Is it fair that we have to pay so much more than the Aussies for tickets to the same British & Irish Lions games?

Dean T says:
19 March 2013

Hi All

I am a very disappointed Rugby supporter, who has gone on many rugby tours before. We are being rip-off by the official tours. I have been planning this trip for 3 years have the hotels the flights (used my avios points). Spent a couple hours trying to book tickets with Aus friends when they went on sale. We were lucky and got tickets for 2nd Test but could not get any for 1st and 3rd. We have tried to buy from other sources that promised the earth but they do not deliver. Lucky we used credit cards so are covered, so people be careful! I am getting to point where I might give it up, all I want is a ticket at a fair price!!

Thanks for the article Matt.

Lionfan says:
6 May 2013

Chickens come home to roost – test tickets not taken up in the expensive accommodation packages now available from Lions Ltd for £350 and Gullivers for £295, cloaked around a ‘pie and a pint deal’ so as to still be a lot more than face value, but still far less than original demands.

I had a phone call from LionsTour.com telling me they would be doing this in about a 2 weeks! As pointed out they are on sale and I’ve got my ticket to the 2nd Test for a hefty £409 which they have very kindly included a “free” Lions Shirt!!!!!

Rae says:
6 May 2013

Contacted last week from Lions Travel – was I still interested in tickets for the Test matches – Quoted £1,149.00 for 3 Bronze Package Tickets – (face value £185.00 ) but as mentioned including a Lions Shirt and a pie and a beer – so £250.00 total value – I thought Ticket Touts were Illegal – yet the Lions travel company are doing it and will probably get away with it as people who have arranged their own flights/accomodation etc will want the tickets. The “True Lions Supporters ” are being shafted again, as usual to pay for all the hangers on that are travelling for free.

Mark says:
23 May 2013

There are Currently Platinum tickets available on the Ticketek website for the Brisbane Test match. $295 per seat!! Be quick!!!!

Dilsie says:
25 May 2013

No there aren’t!!! there are not tickets available anywhere!!!!

grips says:
27 May 2013

gumtree.com.au there are a number of tickets for sale for all 3 tests. I have 2 platinum Tix for Brisbane test.

Phil says:
29 May 2013

Yes there are !! You need to look at the Australian sites. Tickets for all three tests have been available to buy at face value for the last month or so. As soon as new batches become available they become available on the Ticketek and Ticketmaster Australian websites. I’ve bought all my test tickets in the last four weeks.

jb says:
29 May 2013

Ticketek have but not ticketmaster for the 2nd test

Rae says:
30 May 2013

According to both sites – Brisbane available, but other 2 tests – allocation exhausted at present.
You still need “a friend” in Australia with a credit card and Australian address to get the tickets.

I’m guessing the same is of the next tests in NZ!? Do you think if i gave a friend of mine (in NZ) my creditcard details they could have them delivered to his address? Or does billing and shipping address have to be the same?

david jones says:
5 June 2013

whilst some people may have problems aquiring tickets for these matches, there is a far bigger problem for those of us who do not subscribe to sky, many of the older people across britain who through the years have supported rugby in britain now find themselves disenfranchised by sky, add to this the rest of the people who live on a budget and can’t afford the subscription to the sky parasites, one assumes the british rfu had a hand in the negotiations that allowed sky eclusive rights, may they rot in hell too, as much as i love the game of rugby, i now feel no affinity with the lions and if this is how future coverage is going to be presented then i see droves of youngsters abandoning rugby, either its a game for all or its a money grabbing option,

Gaz says:
13 July 2013

In response to Zaffs words of 18th February it is superb I think that you contacted governing bodies with respect to this issue.

I booked my flights in November and based on The British and Irish Lions Official Tour website I booked part of my trip to go to Adelaide. This is because the fixture list on their website said the Melbourne Rebels game was to be played at AAMI Stadium, not AAMI Park. Their fixture list gave no details of which cities the games were to be played in. To alter my flights costed £364.

I wrote two letters to the Lions with respect to this and e-mailed their Australia based head of communications. I received no replies at all and had no comeback as I had no contract with the Lions themselves.

I think the amounts charged to fans by tour operators and The Official Lions Tour in particular were unreasonable.

The fact that from the UK the only way to get match tickets was through them was unfair and I feel unethical also.

On the plane between Canberra and Brisbane I spoke to a guy who through the Official Lions Tour had paid from the UK over £1000 for six match tickets.

He had e-mailed the Lions to ask where the money goes to in the inflated ticket prices, saying he didn’t mind if it went into grass roots rugby. Of course, to this e-mail, he at that time at least, had received no reply.

I soon will write to the NZRU asking with reasons that in 2017, some tickets could be made available to away supporters for purchase in the UK.



Zaff says:
13 July 2013

Hi all
Well I have returned what can only be described as an epic trip
The only down side to this was the way the Lions franchise, the Australian RFU and the
Way all other parties distanced them selves from the ticket rip off
If you concider that Lions supporters set 3 attendance records for the tests
These were achieved by geunuine supporters making massive financial sacrifices
I had tickets for the last 2 tests plus my spare ones I tried to sell these back to the ticket offices at the ground to be resold to the hundreds of fans queuing up for the hope of a ticket
They were not interested I was also told to sell them to others in the ground is classed as scalping
And was illegal , screw that I sold them to a genuine fan at face value and not a penny more
Even thought I saw loads of Aussie touts openly do brisk trade and no one bothering there asses
Over all following our Lions was a journey I shall never forget, the fans of 4 nations came together and demonstrated to all what we are Lions
I cannot wait for NZ and hope we do better than the last time I was there
I too will be writing a series of letters to NZ RFU, IRB, Lions franchise, and Rugby world
We have to show them they resist because of us not dispute us
Official tours great but some of us want to do our own thing which makes it special
Last thing
My trip with family 3 adults in total cost with food and drink and we were nit watching the pennies came to £ 15000 the tour through the official lines without food and drink quoted £17000
Work it out franchisee you tried and failed to fleece me and others


It has started again, trying to book for NZ Lions 2017 but have find official Lions tour operators charging over £600 a night for a £55 hotel room. I think this is a bit steep. I have not even looked at ticket prices yet!!

Any idea when they go on general sale to the kiwi’s?

Hi Matt, will you be doing an article on the NZ test match ticket situation as well?



Hi Matt, I am also looking to fly out to NZ for the last four games next year with a friend it will be my first lions tour and I can’t wait! At the moment 5 of my mates have signed up to pay £4K for flights and tickets to all of the games. However I can’t get the time off work. Currently I am struggling to see how we are going to get tickets to the tests given that there is a ballot and that you have to be a NZ resident to enter!
Appreciate any help/ advice on the best way to see the games.


Maybe just buy the tickets when you’re out there mate. I think a lot of people are gonna be doing that, some of my friends included!

George H. says:
6 December 2016

How easy is it to buy tickets once you’re out there?