Updated 15th September 2020

As we look forward to 2021 one of the big tours that is marked in everyone’s calendar is the British & Irish Lions tour which will be taking place in South Africa.

The concept, born in 1888 and led by then captain Robert Seddon, saw a party of 22 tour Australia and New Zealand. The voyage would last over 46 days to get to their destination and then a 249 day tour would commence. Fast forward to present tours and it looks very different with it being one of the most high-profile rugby event on the planet.

Ticketmaster Sport were successful in winning the extremely competitive tender to ticket the tour and last week launched the ballot for the public to put their names down for tickets.

We spoke to Director of Operations for Ticketmaster South Africa Len Marais about the ballot and how we’re helping South African Rugby navigate their way through the noise and challenges of returning to live.

What were the main objectives of the ballot?

There were four main objectives for the tour;

  1. Build a clean database of rugby fans for our client SA Rugby
  2. Maximise revenue but being mindful of the fans/spectators at all time and providing them with the best value possible.
  3. Ensure ticket distribution is fair and equitable to all, from the start we knew the tour will be oversold, with some of the matches already being 500% over.
  4. Protect against secondary ticketing with our technology.

Were there any barriers in achieving your objectives?

Ticketmaster, although being a global recognised brand, is not established in South Africa and seen as the “new kid” on the block. The mindset of the South African public has always been that they were able to purchase their tickets through the historic channels being outlet, venues and then also online. Ticketmaster South Africa is a 100% digital offering without any outlet footprint. From the get-go we knew that we had to provide a easy to use, fit for purpose solution in place to make sure everyone is able to access the ticket ballot.

Was the ballot open to international bookers?

The ballot was only open to South African residents. On our side we had to put the safeguards in place to ensure that tickets are not sold toto fans outside of South Africa due to commercial obligations. We can now show that we have successfully done so using our technology.

How has the response been from the general public?

There has been ‘an overwhelming response from the public, we are already oversubscribed by over 500% on some of the matches. During these difficult times with COVID this is a light at the end of the tunnel that shows that the fans out there are ready to return!

What are the next steps for the tour and how are you approaching them?

The public ballot is still open for another week after which we will be closing it and notifying all applicants of their outcome. From there we have a mammoth task ahead, it will be all focus on getting operational ready for the upcoming tour. The best route to success is planning, planning, planning and more planning. We are thankful that we have an experienced team behind us, from our team at the Sports side to the local Ticketmaster team which will contribute to the success of this tour. We have 7 stadiums to plan for with one of them being the iconic 97,000 capacity FNB stadium that hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. Overall it will be a mixture of planning, experience, dedication and team work that will make this event one to remember!   

The smooth manner in which the Ticket Ballot process has unfolded reinforced our decision to appoint Ticketmaster, who we consider the ticket online world leader in elite global events,’ said the Tour organiser leadership.

Lourens Oberholzer – Tour Director, SA Rugby