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NZR can't give tickets away as New Zealanders turn nose up at Bledisloe II

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13th August, 2021
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The All Blacks may win the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday night at Eden Park, their Auckland fortress.

Yet they can’t give tickets away for the clash.

The Wallabies face New Zealand in the second of the three-Test Bledisloe series, having lost the first to their hosts 33-25 last Saturday.

The odd decision to play twice at Eden Park in a row came after the New Zealand government switched its border settings on the eve of the series, shifting game two from Wellington to Auckland.

The back-to-back matches show that even New Zealand’s favourite sporting team can reach saturation point.

While New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has not given a crowd forecast, Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner said the attendance would be “well short of last week”.

Mr Sautner told Radio NZ the combined attendance was going to be “in excess of 70,000”.

All Blacks fans.

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Given last week’s match sold out with about 47,000 fans, that means organisers are expecting at least half-filling New Zealand’s biggest sporting arena.

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Tickets are expensive. The cheapest seat at Eden Park – high at one end of the pitch – are $NZ80 ($A76), with premium spots going for $NZ220 ($A210).

Still, NZR is pulling out the stops to pack the stands.

There are offers to club rugby members to bring their kids for free, and a buy-one-get-one-free deal for Sky TV subscribers.

Air New Zealand is even putting on two jets for return flights plus tickets for the basement price of $NZ199 ($A190).

The lack of intensity in the crowd is surely good news for the Wallabies, who will have to contend with less hostility from the outer.

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All Blacks skipper Sam Whitelock put on a brave face on match eve, saying “hopefully it’s more full than empty. The support we do have will be nice and loud”.

After a week where the Australian hyped the contest in the media, in search of a psychological edge, captain Michael Hooper downplayed any advantage, saying “we haven’t even thought about it”.

A win for the Wallabies would be their first in 35 years at Eden Park, tying the series before the decider in Perth on July 28.

Bledisloe 2 kicks off at 7:05pm NZST (5:05pm AEST).

© AAP

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