Thousands of fans had to fork out hundreds of pounds to secure a ticket to watch the sensational action during the Rugby World Cup. But some MPs were able to beat the crowds by being gifted £14,500 ($22,444) worth of tickets and hospitality, an IBTimes UK investigation has discovered.
Labour MP Julie Elliott, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), accepted £1,500 worth of tickets and hospitality from the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby Limited, the body behind top English clubs.
Michael Dugher, in his Labour MP capacity as shadow media and sports secretary, was gifted £2,380 worth of tickets and hospitality from England Rugby and ITV. Dugher also noted in the Register of Members' Interests that he attended the tournament's opening ceremony.
The move caused a stir since Dugher stepped in for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was accused of "snubbing" the ceremony. But it later emerged that the Islington North MP was holding a constituency surgery and could therefore not make the event.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 1, 2015
Elsewhere, Boris Johnson revealed that Cardiff Business Council gifted him a ticket worth £315 to watch England versus Wales on 26 September. The Mayor of London would have witnessed Chris Robshaw's men lose 25-28 to the Red Dragons. The defeat contributed to England's failure to get past the tournament's group stages.
Andy Burnham was another one of the MPs that was gifted a ticket and hospitality to the tournament. The shadow home secretary and former leadership contender was gifted two tickets and hospitality, totalling £700, to watch England smash Uruguay 60-3 at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
The tournament concluded on 31 September when New Zealand became the first team ever to retain the Webb Ellis Cup by beating Australia 34-17 at Twickenham Stadium in London. Nigel Owens, the Welsh official who refereed the final, hailed the competition as the "best ever".
The best @rugbyworldcup ever. Credit to all the teams, players, spectators, organisers, and the wonderful volunteers who gave their time.
— Nigel Owens (@Nigelrefowens) November 1, 2015