Exclusive: Rugby World Cup rips off choirs

Exclusive: Rugby World Cup rips off choirs


norman lebrecht

September 18, 2015

Rugby, of all sports, requires vocal encouragement.

The World Cup, which starts tonight, engaged a 50-strong choir of our acquaintance to sing at two games for the princely fee of £250 a game. That’s £5 a singer. Barely enough for the tube fares.

Fine, said the choristers, but the rule is we get to watch the match after singing the anthems.

No way, said Rugby World Cup. Sing your stuff and then you’ll be escorted off the premises.

So our guys won’t sing.

So much for popularising the game.


Does the Musicians Union have a view on this?


  • Chris Walsh says:

    Given that we’re talking about the RFU here, I’m surprised they weren’t charged for the privilege of singing. One glance at the ticket prices will tell you why they were never going to be offered free seats for the game.

  • Tim Benjamin says:

    Times have changed in the professional era, then…

    I played trombone in the band for the national anthems when England beat France to win the Grand Slam at Twickenham in the 1991 Five Nations (as it then was). This was Christ’s Hospital band. We did a marching display before the match; it was drizzling and our music (on little cards) was soaked and illegible by the time the teams came out.

    When it finally came time for the anthems, it was deafening in Twickenham; what an amazing atmosphere. Very hard to play as well, because the crowd were about 2 bars behind (either because they really were behind, or due to the physics of the stadium, or both), and far louder than we were, they were ~60,000 and we were only 150.

    Anyway – I don’t know if we were paid as I was a mere schoolboy – but we DID get to watch England’s glorious victory over the French, and Will Carling being presented with his trophy.

    Front row seats too!

  • James Laing says:

    In contrast :

    For the 2003 World Cup I was selected to by the Australian RFU to join the ‘Rugby World Choir’. A choir made up of a boy and girl singing their own anthems before each of their respective team’s games.
    They paid for everything, flights, hotels, tickets for every game we sang at including the final, and even some pocket money as well. 40 singers for 2 months……some considerable outlay!
    The opening ceremony was an amazing experience itself, but that final, getting to do what ‘I’ do for my country in front of 90k people ……I’m a lucky, lucky man indeed!

  • Christine McLeod says:

    I sang in one of the choirs for the 2011 RWC in New Zealand and although we were not paid we always got to watch the games.

  • Alan says:

    Checkout this guide to watch Rugby World cup 2015 from anywhere in the world http://www.purevpn.com/blog/how-to-watch-rugby-world-cup/

  • Graham Eagland says:

    I sang with a choir at the Tri-Nations Rugby League Final bewteen GB and Australia a few years back. There must have been 16 of us. We were paid the grand total of £320.

  • Barbara Christie says:

    I sang in a choir at Kinsholm, Gloucester last Friday and we weren’t paid but stayed to watch the match. The ticket value was £65!

  • Jayne Simmons says:

    We got payment plus tickets for the game our choir sang at too, and it wasn’t a ‘small’ game. Maybe the choir of your acquaintance should have bargained more. I know our conductor did!

  • Juliet Tanner says:

    I actually sang at the opening ceremony, and the final. We didn’t get paid anything and despite enough empty seats to fit us all in, we were told we had to leave before half time. We weren’t paid at all, but to be fair we are a school choir. Seriously though, it cost us a lot to get to twickenham from Rugby, and we were all giving up our time to be there. I would have been happy with at least our expenses being paid.