BRITISH and Irish rugby fans are being "ripped off" by being forced to buy expensive travel packages if they want a ticket to watch the Lions play in Australia, a watchdog has revealed.
Tickets for British or Irish supporters are only available through agents appointed by British and Irish Lions Ltd, the organisation running the tour, and they will only sell tickets as part of a flight or holiday package, Which? said.
The cheapest official flight and match ticket package covering the period of the three test matches against Australia, including a rugby shirt, is £2,499.
Alternatively, the consumer group suggested, fans could transfer £183 to an Australian friend or family member to cover the price of tickets to the three games and buy their own return flight and flights between cities for a total of £1,165 - saving £1,334.
Anyone with an Australian address can buy tickets for the three test matches from £61 (95 Australian dollars) each.
Which? pointed out that if it was possible for British and Irish supporters to buy in person, it would be cheaper to fly to Australia in February to buy tickets and then fly back again for the matches, rather than buy the official package.
It said: "British and Irish Lions Ltd should sell tickets at face-value prices to their supporters, exactly as the Australians do and in the same way that organisers of the rugby and football World Cups do.
"Save yourself £1,334 and ask friends or family in Australia to log on at 9am on February 18 and buy tickets for you from www.proticket.com.au, www.ticketmaster.com.au or www.ticketek.com.au."
Lions Rugby travel spokesman Justin Hopwood told the magazine: "Official Lions travel packages are protected to give consumers financial security and peace of mind.
"There is a range of ticket options to choose from, and we strongly believe the official packages represent value for money when compared to other major sporting events."
© Press Association 2013