“It beggars belief” – Jason Robinson hits back at World Cup attendances and ticket prices

World Cup attendances
Photo credit: Allan McKenzie / www.photosport.nz

One week into the Rugby League World Cup, the main topic of conversation continues to revolve around stadium attendances and ticket prices. 

Just over 95,000 fans attended the opening eight games of the men’s tournament – including 43,000 alone for England’s group clash against Samoa. 

Rugby legend Jason Robinson said the current financial crisis is making it difficult for people to attend games. 

Nevertheless, the Wigan great also believes the tournament is still far more affordable than international events in other sports. 

“I think sometimes you miss the point,” he told Love Rugby League. “If you look at the climate we’re living in at the moment, people are wondering how to put the heating on, let alone go to 61 large fixtures. 

“I know from working with Jon Dutton and the team behind the scenes – this will be the biggest and the best World Cup there’s ever been, there’s no doubt about it. 

“There will always be, especially at the start of the tournament, empty seats in stadiums. Sometimes there’s talk about how much tickets are costing. I’ve been in rugby union for quite a while, and if you look at the cost of going to a rugby union international or a football international, it dwarfs anything in rugby league. 

“I know now if I was going to get a ticket for the Rugby union World Cup next year, it would be an absolute fortune. 

“Wherever there’s a tournament you’re always going to have people that are only happy when they’re miserable and complaining. For me, children can go to some of the games for £2.21. That in itself is unbelievable. 

“It’s the World Cup. You’re seeing the best players at a World Cup. It’s funny isn’t it, people can go to McDonalds and spend £15 and then complain about watching international sport… it beggars belief.”

World Cup attendances so far

  • England 60-6 Samoa – 41,119
  • Australia 42-8 Fiji – 13,666
  • Scotland 4-28 Italy – 6,206
  • Jamaica 2-48 Ireland – 6,320
  • New Zealand 34-12 Lebanon – 5,453
  • France 34-12 Greece – 4,182
  • Tonga 24-18 Papua New Guinea – 10,409
  • Wales 12-18 Cook Islands – 6,188

Focus on the games

Robinson was speaking in association with Farah menswear, the off-field clothing partner of the Jamaican Rugby League World Cup team.

The 48-year-old believes it’s time to focus on the athletes and the good work off the field, rather than the negatives. 

He added: “I know the work that has been done behind the scenes. You can’t just give every ticket away. Stadiums have to be hired, everything has to be done. 

“The first week is always the challenging week. It’s the games that build the momentum. We’ve been talking about this World Cup for a long long time and it seems like we’ve been saying the same things because it’s been put back a year. 

“Now, all the attention should be on the athletes that are playing, the skills that we’re seeing. It’s great seeing new players – players I haven’t seen before doing some amazing things. I’ve paid my money to watch all the games. 

“I’m just going to focus on all the great things that are happening, all the money that’s been invested in grassroots clubs all around the country to inspire young people to pick up a ball. The new pitches, the new floodlights, the new equipment. 

“A tournament that is going to be the most inclusive there’s ever been with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair all running at the same time. The prize money is equal. There’s so many things that we should be shouting about as a sport. The negatives should not even be murmured because there are very, very few.”

Farah menswear has been entwined with Jamaican culture since the 1970s and has continued that tradition, as the official off-field clothing partner for the Jamaican Rugby League World Cup team.

More World Cup content

Key things Jon Dutton said at the end of Men’s Round One media briefing

Wales “have earned the respect of a lot of people” says John Kear following World Cup heartbreak

Belfast boy: Dreams are coming true for Ireland prop Liam Byrne


  1. The price of World Cup tickets yes very expensive and you can choose to buy one are not, my problem is getting the system to work why can’t you go to the venue and buy from the ticket office simple.
    Went to Total Wicked Statium bought my season ticket asked about a ticket for the World Cup told I would have to come back after 4.0’clock do I still after go on line to buy one and then pick it up?

  2. I wish they would let you get tickets from ground. My disabled daughter not always well enough on the day to go. Yet unlike regular season simple buy one get one free they add 15 pound to normal adult price for same section. So like last wednesday paid for 2 tickets and just me could go. So 40 pound which is difficult to afford and half wasted. And dont get me started on navigating the horrendous purchasing system on line for a technology numbskull like me. Suffice to say the other 2 games i would have attended at my teams ground i will not and afew others interested in. Sure i am not alone in this and will end up doing 1 game instead of roughly 8 i would have gone to

  3. Average cost of a Super League game about 25/30 quid. All of a sudden it’s 70 quid. Ohhhh, nearly forgot, 25 quid in the corners. Maybe a 1000 seats. Other parts of the ground, like the ends, 55 quid. Bloody ridiculous. They may be the best in the world, but they are still RL players, not God.
    Dutton may dream of 60 or 70 thousand at each game, the reality for some of em is gonna be 2 or 3 thousand.
    Oh, and comparing our game to fluffball where they rip everyone off and tell em it’s ok to pay some fall over artist a couple of million pounds a game, is just not on. We live in the real world. Not some fantasy lalaland where most teams are millions in debt.
    Should have stuck to real world prices and then the stadiums will be full.

  4. I went to the England v France match yesterday at the University of Bolton stadium. It was a complete shambles. The entire area was gridlocked principally due to hopeless venue management into the venue’s car park. We missed the first 30 mins of the game as did countless others.
    At the entrance gate, the twerp on the gate insisted on keeping us waiting further by finishing writing some personal notes instead of scanning our tickets promptly. At half time. I queued for food and beverages but gave up by the time the second half started as the queue hadn’t moved: far too few serving hatches and the staff serving are just hopeless. The whole place is run by amateurs with no sense of customer service. No management fixing the countless incompetences.
    A World Cup event so a national embarrassment. They claimed 23,648 attendance but at least 50% of the seats were empty so there were ~14,000 at best. God knows what a disaster it would have been had it been a full house. I suspect the other 10,000 gave up trying to get there because it was just too hard.
    It was just like the Italy v Canada World Cup RU match I saw at Elland Road, Leeds in 2015. A shambles. Many of the provincial venues are not geared up for world-class events due to incompetent staff and dreadful management so people stay away.
    My first and last time at this impressive looking but dreadfully run venue.

  5. I’ve read some of the comments and do agree with most of them , it is overpriced and some of the venues can’t handle any sort of crowd . Looking forward to Wigan on the 5th nov . £55 for a ticket not to bad it is a quarter final after all. Come on England.

  6. Why should the poor attendances of this minority sport be surprising?
    Outside of M62 corridor it is of little consequence. Given that aside from England the rest of the “big” teams are from the Southern Hemisphere and again are not the major team sport of at least two (New Zealand & Australia) so one could expect few if any travelling fans.
    Why feel the need to play games at soccer stadiums chewing up their pitches when the sport has its own grounds that could all manage to host the low level interest shown in the attendance figures?
    Yes of course the semis and final will attract bigger audiences- but that is more down to the inevitable “bandwagon” effect of people wanting to be at a prime event not because they have a genuine interest in, or likely continuing interest in the sport

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