Column: It would be great to see more clubs expand their brand

Drew Darbyshire

It would be brilliant to see other clubs follow in the footsteps of Wigan Warriors and Hull FC in expanding not only their club brand, but the Super League competition as well.

We witnessed a fantastic spectacle this morning, with Wigan beating Hull FC 24-10 in front of 12,416 spectators at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong, New South Wales.

It was the first ever Super League game to be played outside of Europe and it proved popular between the press and Rugby League fans down under.

This is what we want, isn’t it? We want more people to watch Super League, we want the Super League to gain more media coverage and we want to bring big sponsors into the sport in the UK.

Wigan and Hull have done this. They have received some stick for venturing over to Australia to play each other in a Super League game but I don’t get why. It’s not as though no-one could watch it – it was broadcast LIVE on Sky Sports and some NRL fans, who have probably looked down on Super League previously, watched the game in Illawarra and may even have a different outlook on our competition now.

I understand where some fans were coming from when they were disappointed that there would be one less game at their home ground, but surely they can see the good in this New South Wales tour now!

Say what you like about Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, but his admiration not only for the club, but for Rugby League and expansion, is admirable.

He isn’t just a businessman who just wants profit from being the owner of a professional sports club. He wants the game to grow all over the world and he is spearheading this movement as much as he can with the Warriors, which again, can only be a good thing.

There were over 12,000 people in attendance. This is brilliant and should be considered a success. The organisers have done a grand job – Wigan and Hull brought around a total of 5,000 fans from the UK so that means there were over 7,000 locals watching on.

Put it this way, England’s World Cup clash with Lebanon, which featured NRL stars such as Sam Burgess, Mitchell Moses, James Graham, Robbie Farah and Gareth Widdop, only had a crowd of 10,237, so Wigan and Hull have done a brilliant job to achieve over 12,000. A WIN-WIN for both clubs and Super League (see what I did there?).

Let’s look forward to next week now at the ANZ Stadium, where Wigan till take on the Burgess’ of South Sydney Rabbitohs and Hull face Widdop and Graham’s St George Illawarra Dragons in a double-header on Saturday.