'Ban rugby ticket re-sale, the price is just too high'.
ANGRY rugby fans and politicians say the UK government should have made it illegal to resell Rugby World Cup tickets - just as they did at the 2012 London Olympics.
S4C's current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar has spoken to fans at rugby clubs across the country who claim they can't afford to follow Wales at the World Cup and are forced to watch games on TV. In tonight's edition of the programme, they also investigate the secondary ticketing market and confront a tout selling tickets for huge profit in Cardiff city centre.
At Newcastle Emlyn RFC, where Wales stars Gareth Davies and Scott Williams grew up together, current players gathered to watch last Saturday's epic match between England and Wales. Although ecstatic at the victory, several were dismayed that they were forced to watch their local heroes on TV.
Scott Williams' brother, Alex, was among those watching on the clubhouse's big screen: "I think they need to bring ticket prices down so the boys and girls in clubs like these can see the boys playing on the big stage," he said.
His team-mate, Dyfed Morgan, said things were made even worse by touts buying tickets and selling them on for big profits.
"They just need to stop that business [touting] altogether," he said. "If you buy a ticket, you should use it yourself. Passing it on and making a profit - it's just a joke really, isn't it?" When he was Shadow Sports Minister, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant called on the government to outlaw the resale of rugby tickets, claiming touts are "parasitical ripoff merchants".
On tonight's programme, Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth joinscalls to introduce a new law to clamp down on touts.
He said: "The UK government did try and get to grips with this issue three years ago when the Olympics came to London [by passing a law making the resale of tickets for that event illegal]. It makes no sense to me that they made a sensible decision for that tournament, but didn't make the same decision for the Rugby World Cup."
Although reselling tickets isn't illegal, it is against the Rugby World Cup's rules. According to the organisers' terms and conditions, tickets bought or obtained from any unofficial source are void and may be seized or cancelled without refund or compensation.
Y Byd ar Bedwar journalists scoured the web to track down touts who were flouting World Cup rules by offering tickets to Wales' World Cup games. The seller, advertising himself as 'J', said he was based in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London at various times. He was also advertising tickets for at least seven other World Cup games. The programme's reporter responded to an advert offering tickets for last Saturday's match at Twickenham.
After being contacted by 'J', the reporter agreed to meet the tout in Cardiff city centre before Wales' opening World Cup game with Uruguay. But after handing over PS350 for a ticket worth PS160, they revealed they were journalists and confronted the seller.
'J' refused to respond and snatched back the ticket before storming off. In subsequent phone conversations he insisted he wasn't a tout and was simply selling a spare ticket for a loss, claiming he had spent PS400 originally. He refused to say where he had bought the ticket and the others that were advertised under the same profile on Gumtree.
Tournament organisers England Rugby World Cup 2015 claimed they had tried to push the government to make reselling tickets illegal. Managing director Steve Brown told Y Byd ar Bedwar: "It would have been a lot easier for us if we'd had the same laws as the London Olympics. " In a statement, the UK government said it had introduced a new Consumer Rights Act this year, enforcing online sellers to give information such as face value and seat numbers when advertising tickets. A review into the secondary ticketing market was commissioned and is expected to be completed next year.
On Saturday outside Twickenham touts were again brazenly selling tickets on the streets.
According to Steve Brown, steps are being taken to try to clamp down on the sellers - arguably making it even more difficult for genuine fans to get to games.
He said: "People who are trying to sell tickets in breach of our terms and conditions are aware they're breaking the rules. We have written to over 900 individuals advertising tickets to ask them to stop selling those tickets, and they have withdrawn them.
"We know touts are selling tickets here. We have additional police operations at the bigger matches to help us manage that."
Y Byd ar Bedwar will be broad-cast tonightat 8.25pm on S4C.
Ticket tout 'J', left, is confronted <B by S4C reporter Gwyn Loader, right
Tickets for Rugby World Cup games have not come cheap <B