Only around 20,000 seats at the 82,000-capacity Twickenham Stadium, where all three contests will be staged, are available to the public following early distribution to governing bodies, sponsors, hospitality companies, travel groups and rugby clubs.
Tournament organisers will use a ballot system to allocate tickets for the most popular fixtures, arguing it is fairer than a âfirst come, first servedâ policy and will help minimise the business conducted on the black market.
But their strategy has been criticised by Twickenham debenture holders, some of whom were threatening court action earlier in the summer, and by members of the England Rugby Supportersâ Club, an organisation set up by the Rugby Football Union.
âLike many others, Iâve followed the team for years, through bad times as well as good, and was expecting some form of priority when it came to World Cup matches,â said an ERSC member yesterday.
âMy hopes were high when we were told back in June that we could go online ahead of the public sale and buy tickets. So we could â for all games except those three headline fixtures at Twickenham.
âWhether or not you think we should have priority, the average rugby supporter is going to find it very difficult to watch England at their own World Cup. Iâm not alone in thinking the system stinks.â
Joanna Manning-Cooper, the director of communications and marketing at the World Cup delivery organisation England 2015, confirmed yesterday there were strict limits on the number of tickets available for general sale.
âWe have half of the total ticket allocation to distribute,â she said. âThe rest are distributed by the International Rugby Board to unions, travelling supporter packages, hospitality, sponsors etc.
âOf our tickets, around 50 per cent were made available to fans through clubs in our ârugby community saleâ between May and July. By the time that sale was extended to ERSC members, all the England tickets had been sold.â
Of course, those with deep pockets will have no problem buying seats for the major contests. While the cheapest adult seat for the crucial England-Wales game on 9 September is Â£75, England Rugby Travel, an official partner of the RFU, is offering the self-same grade of ticket for Â£399 as part of a âday returnâ package including transport. Their most expensive package, which offers a night in the Dorchester Hotel, is Â£1,549.
The police expect a concerted attempt by fraudsters to set up ticket scams when the online application process opens today. City of London Police Commander Steve Head warned the various ruses would be âsophisticated and very convincingâ and added: âWe are urging supporters not to be fooled by cheap or discounted tickets and to buy only from official sources.â
On the club front, Harlequins and Saracens have made a single change to their starting line-ups for tonightâs Premiership derby at the Stoop. Ollie Lindsay-Hague replaces the injured Ugo Monye on the left wing for Quins, while the visitors have promoted the blind-side flanker Jackson Wray ahead of the Scotland captain Kelly Brown. Owen Farrell, the England outside-half, must settle for a seat on the Sarries bench for the second time in six days.
Rugby World Cup 2015: Outcry over shortage of tickets for Twickenham