No More Mr 'Nice' Guy: fans outrage at Rugby World Cup 2023 ticketing service

Head of Sport Tom Moorcroft outlines his experience of purchasing tickets for the Rugby World Cup

Tom Moorcroft
19th March 2021
Twitter @France2023
As I set up station at 4:55 yesterday, readying my laptop as I prepared for an evening of dull loading screens and glimmers of hope, I was optimistic for the night ahead.

We had become members of the Rugby World Cup 2023 'Family', with exclusive access to a presale of all RWC City and Nation packages. We had our eyes set on Paris or Bordeaux, as the clock struck 5 and we entered the queue.

A whimsical rugby ball could be seen sailing away between the two posts to represent the loading screen, toying with fans as they dreamed of seeing the real deal 2.5 years away in France. At a rate of 1% every minute, I was scanning Twitter to see the success stories, torturing myself with a sea of comments such as "Just got my RWC ticket!".

However, this wasn't the case. Twitter had been chock full of irate fans, commenting on the website's poor loading system, constant freezing and, in some cases, booting out of the queue. Of course I prayed that this wouldn't be the case for myself, and one and a half hours later I saw myself in that lucky bracket: 99% and counting. This was my chance... France here we come.

Although this wasn't my chance, as upon accepting my entry into the ticketing website I was kicked to the back of the queue. From 100 to 0 in the blink of an eye, blood boiling, I took to Twitter again to assess the situation. Needless to say, I was one of the thousands across the nation that had been struggling with this exact situation.

Down, but not out, I took to the queue again, this one teasing me with an even longer waiting time: 3 hours. Passion for rugby slowly draining my body, I watched as that rugby ball slowly made its way towards the posts, chuckling to myself as I realised the ball actually falls just short of the target, probably an ideal metaphor for their ticketing service.

But here we were, an upsetting wave of deja-vu taking over as I saw my screen change from 99 to 100. I clicked accept, waiting to be booted in that conventional manner, but I was in. "Welcome to France" it boasted, as I had luckily made my way through their devastating ticket service.

At this point, pretty much all of the Nation Packs had been sold out, with Italy remaining. The City Packs, which my friend and I had our eyes on, were limited; Lyon, Lille and Saint Etienne.

I thought to myself: "Surely this is it", as I clicked on Lyon and viewed their games. A 3 match pack to see the likes of Wales, New Zealand and Australia? It's a no brainer. However, naively to my suprise, the website crashed, with no tickets for Lyon available.

It was a similar tale with Lille, as we wasted tens of minutes refreshing in the hopes of brand new tickets popping out of nowhere. They did not.

One of the issues was due to fans obtaining tickets for these events, but not fulfilling their full order (probably due to the website crashing). So, these tickets sat in their basket, until they eventually ended up back on offer. Hundreds of fans were all going for these tickets, so chances of obtaining them were dire.

Saint Etienne: one of the lands of French art and history. Australia fans would've snatched at the chance to see some games there, as 2 of the 3 games on offer saw the Wallabies in action. I was sat there, doing my typical "refresh-add to basket-sold out" maneuver until something strange happened.

"Refresh, add to basket, you have 20 minutes to buy your tickets".

This is the moment I had been waiting for. Heart racing, hands shaking and desperately screaming "where's my debit card" I prayed as the page moved on. Every stage of purchasing felt like an eternity, but with all hope lost, my luck turned up. I had managed to secure my tickets to go to the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

But this wasn't the case for most Rugby fans. Many had similarly waited 6 hours to grab some tickets but were repeatedely kicked out of the queue, timed-out of the website, or simply gave up in the process. On a stroke of luck I had made it through, but there were many fans left abandoned by the only sport they know and love.

For this, World Rugby need to respond.

With tickets going on general sale on April 6th, fans that missed out on the presale can hope for another story, but one must pray the ticketing service adapts before it's too late.

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AUTHOR: Tom Moorcroft
Head of Sport for The Courier. Current 3rd year English Literature and History student. Love writing about sports/music, playing the guitar and Everton FC!

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