The Rugby Football Union has defended a 22 per-cent price increase for top tickets to see England in this year’s 6 Nations championship.

The sport’s governing body in England said on Monday that the dearest tickets for the opening clash against France in February will now cost £130 each, compared to £106 when the fixture was last played at Twickenham in 2015.

Twickenham officials claim just four per cent of seats in the stadium are included within the top price category, adding that the increase in top-end prices have been implemented in order to freeze the cost of more affordable seats. The cheapest seats for the game at the 82,000-capacity stadium are £41.

The Daily Mail newspaper said it understands the same price points will be used for games against Wales, Ireland and New Zealand, with Australia, South Africa and Scotland in the second tier.

There are now seven different categories of prices for each match, as opposed to three under the old structure.

“Our pricing structure allows us to offer England tickets at a range of prices to supporters and club members for as little as £25,” an RFU spokesman told the newspaper. “It also enables us to generate the necessary income to maintain the high level of investment we put back into the game.”