RFU increases Six Nations prices for England matches due to rising costs

The Rugby Football Union has responded to a seven-figure hike in overheads because of inflation by further increasing ticket prices for the Six Nations next year, the Guardian understands.

It was determined this year that prices for the 2022-23 season would rise roughly in line with inflation at the time, but given surging energy prices and the rise in supplier costs such as hotels, travel and matchday staff the RFU has opted to add another increase of £5 for England’s home fixtures against Scotland and France and a £2 rise for the Italy fixture.

The decision was taken too late to alter prices for England’s four autumn fixtures, where some tickets for the blockbuster fixture against New Zealand cost £179, but has been made for the Six Nations next year in the hope of bringing in a further £800,000 to partially mitigate against the increased costs.

As the cost of living crisis takes hold, the RFU has not yet sold out the autumn fixtures against Argentina on Sunday or Japan on Saturday week but marquee matches against the All Blacks – which will be only their second visit to Twickenham since 2014 – could sell out multiple times over and are worth more than £10m to the union.

The RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, recently described Six Nations matches and the autumn internationals – as well as Twickenham’s revamped £80m East Stand which has four hospitality restaurants and can cater for up to 4,500 supporters – as “our cash cow”.

Even before the decision to increase Six Nations prices, the proposed initial £5 rise meant more than two-thirds of tickets would cost more than £100. There is an acknowledgement within the union that rising prices would affect demand but that it would not result in a drop in attendances.

The RFU is expected to release its latest annual report in the coming weeks but last year’s revealed the full financial impact of the pandemic with the union announcing a revenue shortfall of £120m compared to previous forecasts. The RFU also revealed an underlying loss to reserves of £21.3m – around £30m worse than pre-pandemic forecasts.

Autumn Nations Series organisers, meanwhile, have been left red-faced after it emerged official merchandise was carrying the outline of the US state of Georgia, rather than the country competing in the November fixtures. “The design error was quickly identified, and all marketing and promotional material, including merchandise, has been corrected and reissued to all parties,” a spokesperson said.