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Big Crowd Big Problem for Rugby Canada

Tuesday May 26, 2009 in Canada National Team - Men

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(Alex Goff photo.)

May 26, 2009 – Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown issues what was essentially an apology for how Rugby Canada handled a surprisingly large crowd at Saturday’s test match in Vancouver.

“The biggest crowd to a Rugby Canada event prior to this at Thunderbird Stadium was around 4,800 when Canada beat Scotland in 2002,” explained Brown on Monday. “Our pre-sales during the week indicated we would be hitting a similar target – and our planning, from washroom facilities, to beer gardens to seating were crushed by the huge amount of walk-up business on the day.”

But with only two gates open to accept fans, and one ticket window, the lines were very long, and many fans didn’t get to see the first part of the game. It didn’t help that most fans didn’t show up until 1:30 or later for the 2pm game.

“Imagine if you plan dinner for thirty people and a hundred showed up,” said Brown. “Everything you had planned for would go out the window – and now you are going to have some unhappy dinner guests.”

Fans expressed their displeasure, not only with the lines but the VIP tents that reduced visibility for fans sitting on the grassy knoll side of Thunderbird Stadium at UBC.

Brown said seating configurations based on traditional crowd numbers precluded having to rely on the berm for anything other than a handful of fans. Based on the huge numbers of people who used the grassy hill for a view of the game, he agreed the corporate tents would have been better suited to one or the other end zone areas.

“We understand that people were frustrated at not being able to see the whole game if they chose to sit on the top of the hill, but our advance planning included a full grandstand – some people in the beer garden area – and the fans who opted for the Captain’s tent, who all had low rise bleachers for seating,” explained the CEO, who has been in the post since 2002.  “Again – on a Friday night we began to suspect this would be an issue – but the tents take many hours to erect – those seats were sold at a premium – and to make such a change based on anecdotal evidence would have been premature.”

Brown added that the volunteers at the event did an excellent job – the problems were due to planning. He added also that the large crowd was a positive thing.

“It is clear that people are behind this team and first year coach Kieran Crowley and that the game of rugby is enjoying a very real upswing in interest both corporately and at the fan level in general,” he said, before adding – “as the team on the field improves, so will our planning for events.”

Fans wishing to attend this weekend’s match at York University are encouraged to buy their tickets now to avoid disappointment at the gate. You can buy them through the Cardticketing website – which allows you to purchase using your credit card or debit card through Interac. ($2.50 per ticket service charge applies). This system allows you to receive your tickets by email – where you can print them and then get them scanned upon entry to the facility. The link is http://cardticketing.com/showtickets.aspx?mid=231  
Sales through Cardticketing.com will end at midnight on Friday May 29th. Gates open for the Canada vs Wales match at 10:00 AM - with the Ontario Loyalists playing the Voyageurs (a trial match for the Ontario Blues) match starting at 10:30 am. We encourage people to arrive early to avoid delays through parking and entry to the facility.

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