Rugby

JRFU still confident of big crowd for Bledisloe Cup dead rubber in Yokohama

Kyodo

The Japan Rugby Football Union said Wednesday it was still hopeful of a big crowd for the Oct. 27 Bledisloe Cup game at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, despite the game being a dead rubber.

New Zealand’s 40-12 win over Australia last weekend in Auckland saw the All Blacks win the trophy for the 16th straight year, raising concerns Down Under that fans may stay away from the third game in this year’s series, despite it being a rematch of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final at the venue that will host the final of the 2019 tournament.

“We would be very hopeful that the All Blacks playing in Japan in advance of Rugby World Cup will still be popular,” NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew told New Zealand media.

A spokesman for the JRFU told Kyodo News that while just 25,000 tickets had been sold as of Wednesday morning for the game at the 72,000-seat stadium, it was still hopeful of selling 50,000 tickets.

With the 2018-2019 Top League season kicking off on Friday, the JRFU plans to run a number of promotional campaigns both at match venues and on television to raise awareness of the game, which comes a week before the Brave Blossoms take on the All Blacks at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium.

Some local observers have said the JRFU’s decision to host a game between a Japan XV and a World XV in Osaka the evening before on Oct. 26 could have had a knock-on effect on ticket sales in Yokohama, though they also point out that Japan rugby has always relied on walk-up ticket sales.

In 2009, when Tokyo last hosted a Bledisloe Cup game, a last-minute rush on tickets (both complimentary and bought) saw the crowd at the old National Stadium boosted to 44,000.