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The RFU update on Twickenham redevelopment and rising ticket prices

By Josh Raisey
A general view inside the stadium before the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium in London, England. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The RFU are going through the “planning phases” for the scheduled redevelopment of Twickenham, with chief executive Bill Sweeney saying the stadium “needs upgrading”.

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Plans to redevelop Twickenham were revealed in February after the RFU rejected a proposal to make Wembley the home of England rugby, but Sweeney recently confirmed that any work will not start until 2027.

This is a move to make the 82,000-capacity stadium, originally built in 1909, “fit for purpose”.

“The stadium needs upgrading,” Sweeney said at the Impact ’25 launch on Tuesday.

“It has to be fit for purpose because it’s such an important revenue generator for us. There’s a stadium master planning steering group which reports into the RFU board. We’re going through all the planning phases and various different options but you won’t see development or work on the stadium until about 2027.”

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Twickenham, and more specifically the cost to attend matches there, has been under the microscope recently after The Times reported that England’s clash with the All Blacks in November will see the RFU charge its highest-ever prices for a ticket outside of the World Cup.

While Sweeney said that this is something they are “conscious” of, he added that there is no immediate solution, and explained why these price rises have happened.

“On the one hand, it is market forces,” he said.

“Our own utility bill at Twickenham went from 2.5m to 7.2m in a year and that was unbudgeted. Costs are absolutely rocketing at the moment. We’re a business in the sense that we eventually have to deliver profit that we invest back in the game.

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“We take it very seriously, in terms of the level of ticket pricing. What you’re seeing there is a reflection of what’s happening other parts of society in having to increase your prices.

“It’s very easy to say ‘reduce your prices, make it more widely available and bring in a different demographic’. The way ticketing is structured within the RFU, it’s very difficult to influence that.

“Within the articles of association of the RFU, 51 percent of tickets are allocated to the clubs. Debentures account for 20%, 15% goes to the visiting team. 10% is for commercial partners, so you have a very small percentage that you can actually go to market with in order to change the demographic. It’s something we’re conscious of but there’s no immediate, obvious solution to that.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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