Johannesburg - The Blue Bulls Company has been so hard hit by the wave of negativity surrounding SA Rugby that it took the extraordinary decision to launch a public appeal for fans to attend this weekend’s Currie Cup semi-final between the Blue Bulls and Western Province.
According to the SuperSport.com website, while provincial unions asking the media to assist them in promoting a game is nothing new, Bulls CEO Barend van Graan admitted to being a very worried man after only 11 612 tickets have been sold for the semifinal by Wednesday, with only 600 being sold in the preceding 24 hours at ticket outlets.
The Bulls admitted they had only sold 3 393 general gate tickets halfway through the week - and this when prices of the tickets started at R20 for children, R40 for adults behind the posts and worked their way up to R280 for the most expensive seats.
Considering in the past Currie Cup semifinals have been sold out with queues snaking around the corner, this is the first time that reality of falling attendance figures has actively hit home for the Bulls, who managed to come close to filling up Loftus Versfeld for the test match between the Springboks and Australia earlier this month.
That may have contributed to their flagging sales a bit, but figures released by the Bulls on tickets taken up by Wednesday saw Suite holders taking the most at 4 896, with season ticket holders taking 3 323 tickets for the game.
The Bulls have appealed to fans to buy tickets so that one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year can get a crowd that is worthy of the playoffs of the domestic competition, but admit there may well be “other factors” beyond their control that are influencing the stay-away from the ground.
During Currie Cup this year the Bulls average attendance figures had fallen from 16 638 in 2015 to 4 602 this year, showing a marked decline in the attendance of local games.
While the Bulls wouldn’t say it publicly, decisions by SARU to schedule most of their games on Fridays had contributed to the number, as the Bulls struggle to get crowds outside the regular Saturday slot, while their marquee game against Western Province was bizarrely scheduled for 5pm on a Friday, with only 3453 fans turning up, as many were still stuck in the gridlock around the stadium.
The Bulls best attendance figures this season was 7 896 for their clash against neighbours, the Golden Lions. Last year’s semifinal against the same Western Province team saw 19 428 fans attend the game.
“Please help us get the word out,” Van Graan asked journalists on Wednesday.
“There are a number of reasons for this which you are discussing of late in the media which I don’t want to discuss,” Van Graan added. “But our tickets are reasonably priced, from R40 and I’d like to thank all the supporters who have already bought their tickets.”
Tickets for the game can still be obtained at the Bulls ticket office at Loftus Versfeld or at bulls.ticketpros.com.
THE PRICES FOR THE GAME ARE AS FOLLOWS
Grand Stand: R150-R280
East Stand: R50-150
North and South: Children: R20, Adults R40.