/ 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?


Not being a sports fan, spending thousands of pounds to watch three games seems an extravagance, but then its no more than a foreign holiday I suppose.
I would have thought an enterprising Aussie would have known of this situation and either bought tickets directly or indirectly to sell to non-Aussies at a suitable profit?

Jake79 says:
21 January 2013

This is completely unfair. Imagine the uproar if this had happened for Olympic tickets. It’s ridiculous that this situation has been created by the british lions and only hits their own fans in the pocket. 

Steve Keen says:
25 January 2013

It seems if you buy just flight and ticket you are not getting value for money but the packages are better. Lions Rugby Travel are not the only offical operator – I got my 2 test tour at Thomas Cook Sport for £3,497- they are also official and their tour packages are much cheaper – they still have hotels, transfers etc but not the shirt.

Clint Turtle says:
25 January 2013

My mates and I are going to oz for the Lions tour, got our flights, motor homes to travel from venue to venue but alas no tickets.
Does it matter that we have all been good servants to the RUFC for over 40 years, NO.
Does it matter that we all bank with HSBC, NO.
Can we get to know how travel company’s can get guaranteed tickets before they go on sale to the public, NO.
Were going to live the dream but without tickets, come on HSBC or RUFC show some compassion and make the dream real.

Daniel King says:
6 February 2013

Hi am a Pom living in Australia,

Lions tickets have already been on pre-sale to Super rugby members such as the Waratahs from yesterday and they went like the clappers, my point is that once they go on sale they’ll be less available than you think. Luckily for me i am a Waratahs member and got mine. But if you are going to try on the 18th i suggest you do the following for your best chance at a positive result.

1. Register with ticketek.com.au (for Brisbane and Sydney tests plus some provincial matches), ticketmaster.com.au (for Melbourne test plus some provincial matches) and pro ticket.com.au (NSW/QLD Country match) well in advance so you’re ready to go at the time, you’ll need an Aussie address.

2. Scour the websites so you know what you want and can have a plan of attack for the exact time they go on sale.

3. Be on the websites in advance of the sale time (maybe 10 minutes and set up what tickets you want and wait on that page, if you click on ‘confirm purchase’ it’ll just return you to that page with your ticket request still there and it’ll say something like ‘Tickets on sale from Mon 18 Feb 2013, 9am (local time)” that’ll be 10pm for you guys. But keep refreshing around 10pm GMT over and over and over again, as soon as the clock hits 22.00 GMT it will offer you tickets (hopefully, if the website doesn’t crash and you have a bit of luck).

4. Don’t muck around changing seats if you aren’t happy, just take what they offer as you risk not getting any if you’re picky.

I hope this helps, and wish you the best of luck. The real sticking point is getting an Aussie address to have the tickets sent to, i’d love to give you mine but i am sure Which wouldn’t publish this if i did and of course i could be anyone (although i am genuine, just saying)

Very, very good luck. I hope you all read this message.

Daniel King
Newcastle, NSW

Zaff says:
27 January 2013

I have followed the lions and British rugby since day dot,I am so angry that If I want a ticket I have to go one of the rip off merchants who state that it is value for money booking their packages.
They talk about fiancial security, b******s, no more security than booking with a credit card.
I have booked 3 flights, hotels,hired car, stop overs in Singapore on way out and Dubia on the way back, Melbourne 5 days and sydney 4 days 23 days in all for approx £7000 without food plus they have thrown in some in between mini tours in Singapore.
All that is missing is the 2nd and 3rd test tickets.
All rep ailines and hotel chains so no dodgey stuff, so if I can get thsi as an individule why am I being forced by the Lions to pay an estimated £12,000.00 more to get anywhere near what I have bookened.
This is a monopoly as far as i am concerened, it is us the fans who turn out week end and weds nights in the rain cold etc to watch their local teams and internation teams, play their rugby and support the IRB only to be treated this way “DISGUSTING” you should be ashamed of yourselves,
The IRB use the phase ” it is the Lions who make the rules for sell of tickets, I say it is teh IRB who control the game and shouild intervene on the fans behalf.


Nik G says:
29 January 2013

We are a party of 11 trying to organise out B&I Lions 2013 trip to the 3 tests, we have a number of people attempting to get us tickets in Oz so fingers crossed there.
We did contact lionstour.com who offered us some discount for a group booking for hotel+ticket package for the tests but this still left the price at £2049 pp (down from £2399), but this was declined – they’re still attempting to make approx £1200 pp profit!
I’m afraid they are no longer interested in genuine fans ability to afford to go anymore, it seems money does talk!
Also disgusted that as a member club of rfu no tickets available from them!
Lets hope the take up is so low that they start to panic that B&I fans are boycotting them!

Nik G – I think your last comment hits the nail on the head. It may be a commercial decision that either makes them a lot of money (are their enough fans who don’t care what they pay?) or it may fall flat – as this sort of profiteering should. But it’s not a fair world and capitalising on a lucrative position is what business is about.

No it is not a fair world. Clearly commercial organisations need to make a profit (I wish all contributors to W?C would realise this) but greed is not acceptable, even if it is currently legal. Offering fans (fanatics) tickets at silly prices is as unacceptable as trying to sell alcohol to a known alcoholic.

Nik G says:
31 January 2013

Maybe there are cracks appearing already as I received an email from Gullivers today:

“Flash sale ends tomorrow

Hi Nik

This is your last chance to save £750 per person on selected Lions Tours (see which ones opposite), so make sure you book today. You only have until 5.00pm tomorrow to take advantage of this fantastic discount”

“Book now for £750 off
Crocodile Green – 3 Tests
19 June-8 July (20 days)
Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney
Was £6,999pp
NOW £6,249pp

Koala Red – 3 Tests
19 June-8 July (20 days)
Gold Coast, Melbourne, Red Centre, Sydney
Was £8,175pp
NOW £7,425pp

Koala Green – 3 Tests
20 June-8 July (19 days)
Brisbane Melbourne, Sydney
Was £7,450pp
NOW £6,700pp

Kookaburra Red – 1st & 2nd Tests
19 June-1 July (20 days)
Brisbane Melbourne, Sydney
Was £5,860pp
NOW £5110pp

Kookaburra Orange – 1st & 2nd Tests
19 June-1 July (11 days)
Brisbane, Melbourne
Was £5,255pp
NOW £4,505pp

All costs are based on two people sharing – single supplement charges apply.”

Still not much of a bargain even with £750 off

Dave T says:
29 January 2013

Got Rtn flights, 3 internals, 7nights Gold Coast, 3 Melbourne, 6 Sydney just over £1700. Gullivers want £7000, same intinery only Cairns not GC! Now for the Gold Ticket chase!

Dave T says:
11 July 2013

Back home from an amazing trip. Managed to get tickets all 3 tests, total outlay $575 for 2 bronze and 1 silver. Very easy to obtain, saw a few selling for F/V outside Suncorp. Cheapest was Melbourne, $150. Took a risk though saved a packet by avoiding the con operators. Total cost with tickets just over £2100!

Carlos says:
30 January 2013

Congratulations on a great article and raising some very important points. I am a rugby fan and was, probably still am, considering going on this tour until I saw the prices. They are simply ridiculous and a quick online search can unearth a wide variety of more affordable alternatives but the problem of securing tickets for the test matches is huge.
I was disappointed to see the empty seats during the last tour and am amazed that The British and Irish Lions have ignored the financial climate of the last 4 years and chose to appoint Official Tour Companies that appear to be seeking disproportionate profit. I am sure that many will still travel but the stadiums will still have a few empty seats.
Anyway, thanks for articulating something that has been on my mind for a long time!


Rebecca says:
1 February 2013

At last! An article that recognises what a farce this situation is. It is our dream to do the Lions Tour and it is not being made easy. We are UK residents living in Hong Kong, so for a start these ridiculously priced packages make no sense – why would we fly back to the UK when we are half way to Australia as it is? Not one tour operator could come up with a sensible alternative. After much consideration we thought perhaps we could find a flight and ticket deal from HK. This would be more useful than accommodation as we have friends to stay with. We do not want to pay an extortionate amount be escorted and taken to pet a koala bear, or such other forced fun. But even the unescorted tours are absurd. The cheapest we have found is GBP439 for the Melbourne test and GBP446 for the Sydney test. Face value for a silver category ticket is GBP 114, so the remainder is the cost to stay in the ‘budget’ accommodation… over GBP 100 per person per night for a HOSTEL! The ironic thing is that no matter which agent you contact, in which country, they are all using the packages provided by weloverugby.com! The whole scenario is utterly pathetic and this is a monopoly. It may be a great sell to the older, wealthier crowd who are happy to have their holidays planned for them, but for the rest of us that want to be a part of it, it is thoroughly irritating… Luckily we have family and friends in Aus, but of course they are also trying to tickets themselves. Fingers crossed but someone please sort this out!!

John in Brisbane says:
5 February 2013

To all UK fans,
Lions tickets have already gone on sale in in Oz. They were sold to rugby season ticket holders first, then wallabies supporters and eventually on te 18th of Feb , the general public. Ticketek.com.au Also because the stadiums are owned by the state governments, ticket touting is illegal. These tickets will be very popular and is probably the biggest event in Oz this year. If you do come, try get tickets for the tour games against the super 15 teams as they are quite cheap $30. The tests are expensive by Aussie standards but it is a once every 12 year event. Good luck and remember you are coming in winter.

Papa says:
5 February 2013

Here’s one for the book, I agree it is a total rip-off & was a shock to me when I enquired with the offical Lions tour organisers. They quoted for organised tours at a ridiculous amount of money over £3,500. Then I asked them “All I wanted was tickets for the games” they told me I had to purchase the flight with them so as to get the tickets at a cost of £2,499.00 with no accomodation or midway stopovers. Now this is what I have got a chance of- Return Flights, 2 night stopover Hong Kong,internal flights whilst in Australia all accomodation in Australia, 2nights stopover Singapore. £2,600 all I need is tickets for the 3 tests, but we’re being held to ransome by sheer greed.Flight only cost including internal flights was £1208.00 return, so they are charging £1200appx for their flight prices & tickets. My god we have no chance with this dictatorship.

Pete says:
8 February 2013

My friend in Aus (bless her) got us tickets in the pre-release for the second and third tests for AUD$700 – about £480.

We have flights ex Dublin for €750 each – about £650.

This totals less than £900 each – the official tour was £1400 dearer.

I learned my lesson in NZ in 2005 when a Hospitality package for the third Lions test costing £300 got me a £30 ticket, 2 cans of beer and a meat pie.

Real rugby fans are being royally shafted by these rip-offs.

N.B – this year’s Heineken Cup Final is the same – you can’t get tickets unless you take an exorbitant hotel deal.

Taking the advice of asking friends in Australia, going to try and get some tickets on Monday and get them posted to them in Australia and collect when I get there.

Absolute joke how much they are charging, I am doing abit of traveling before hand and I’ve booked my flights (Manchester to Bangkok, Singapore to Melbourne and Melbourne to Manchester) for £890 slightly better than only going to Australia for 5x or 10x that ammount!!!

Hopefully I can get the tickets to the Melbourne game come Monday 18th (yeah i’m praying hard about it!!!) and that they get shipped to my friend for me.

I too have been looking for a way around this and thought i’d sorted it from the advice of Daniel King above i.e. a friend in australia has agree i can use his address but then i discovered that tickets are posted to credid card registered address, afraid that will void the sale. Any advice?

Daniel King says:
19 February 2013

Hello Ver

I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you but you’ve been given the incorrect information. The tickets are posted to the address you supply not your credit card address, many of my friends have used my address here in Australia and used their own CC from the UK. There wasn’t any issue at all and if you have any opportunity to get tickets again then don’t worry about this ‘issue’.


Daniel King

Hi All
I have posted my comments on this rip off and discrimentaion of home union supporters but I thought I would share with you a thought, I have e-mailed my MP,the aus RFU,the lLions,most news papers but most of all the IRB.
below is a cut down version from a friend who have done like wise, we can all vioce our opinions here and it is worth it but why not vioce our opinions to the IRB.
They are meant to goven our sport in all aspects but wash their hands of it as soon as they have their cut, so go on guys it takes but a few miniutes and it makes you feel so good knowing that they have been told .

Dear IRB,
I realise already before I wrote this, you would wash your hands with my complaint immediately and refer to the ‘fact’ the lions ‘franchise’ has nothing to do with you .
A colleague has already wrote to you and got the ‘nothing to do with us ‘response but I wanted to add my disappointment and dismay that you Do not want to get involved to protect and enhance the interests of those you promote on your website … Rugby players and genuine rugby people.
Your charter talks about loyalty and sportsmanship but you stand aside and let companies dictate to decent rugby club men ( I have served every position for my local club and played over 700 games ) like myself to only be able to buy tickets as an Australian resident or by buying an inflated travel package through a company obviously ripping punters off .
Why oh why cannot you not force the member countries of the lions to enable members clubs to purchase tickets and make available to club members .
Yours in rugby,


I’d suggest what I have done to get around this Western Union(ed) the cost of platinum ticket to a friend in Australia and asked him to buy the tickets on Monday which he has kindly agreed to do 🙂

Maybe you could do the same to your friend think it takes a short while to get to them but they will have the money at the end of the day.


Rossy says:
17 February 2013

Just had phone call from cousin in Oz who was pre registered for tickets. She was on phone at 8.58am this morning (tickets went on sale on 9am) She got through at 9am only to be told there were no tickets left for ANY of the 3 tests!!!
She is really cross and asked how come as they had only literally gone on sale at that moment and the girl said there was nothing she could tell her just that there was nothing. The ticket agent said there was a possibility more may be released but that was up to the ARU,
OH well, looks like the three of us could end up watching in a bar in Brisbane/Melbourne/Sydney.
Utterly crazy situation when British Lions won’t sell fans a ticket unless its booked through them with one of their flights.
Anyone else had similar problems today with friends/family trying to get a ticket in Oz?