A higher percentage of female viewers are tuning into Rugby League than Football or Cricket according to newly released viewing figures* from Sky Sports, which show that the sport has a female audience share of 35% compared to Premiership Football at 29% and Ashes cricket at 25%.
To celebrate the findings Coronation Street stars past and present, Michelle Keegan, Helen Flanagan and Lucy-Jo Hudson, shared their love of Rugby League as they brought some glamour to the official launch of the 2010 Co-operative Championships.
The 2010 Co-operative Championships kick off next Thursday (February 25) with Leigh Centurions taking on Champions Barrow Raiders live on Sky Sports 3, in the competition which last season proved to be the most competitive and exciting ever.
Lucy-Jo Hudson, the sister of Super League player and Castleford Tigers star Ryan Hudson, who was re-united with her former Corrie cast mates to get behind the game, said: “The fact that more women are getting into Rugby League is great. I’ve been brought up watching Rugby League and I often go to watch my brother play. I hope more women continue to get involved – it’s a fantastic sport.”
Helen Flanagan, who plays Rosie in the popular soap, said: “I’m a massive Rugby League fan, so I was thrilled to be invited to the launch today. To hear that Rugby League has a huge following among women is great news, and I’m looking forward to getting to watch some games this year.”
Actress Michelle Keegan, known to many as Tina McIntyre from the show, said: “I have always been a huge fan of Rugby League. It’s such a fast paced game and everyone who plays it has to be so fit. It was a pleasure getting to meet players today at the start of the 2010 season. Good luck to everyone playing!”
Rugby League is growing year on year with increased live coverage and viewing figures on Sky Sports, record attendances at club games and a 29% increase on attendees at the 2009 Grand Final compared to 2008.
More than a million people watched The Co-operative Championships live on Sky Sports last year with the televised Thursday night thrillers proving compulsive viewing and overall viewing figures up by 31 per cent.
Liz Matkin, The Co-operative Group’s Head of Sponsorship, commented: “We’re delighted to have Helen, Michelle and Lucy-Jo involved in championing women’s interest in Rugby League.
“These stats show that the sport really does offer something for everyone and we’re proud to get behind a sport which brings so much to the community – whatever gender or age!
“Being good for everyone is the heart of the Co-operative’s core business as a community retailer. We look forward to another exciting 2010 Co-operative Championship season.”
At the end of the regular season the bottom two clubs in The Co-operative Championship will be relegated. The only exception is that Toulouse Olympique are exempt from relegation and therefore should Toulouse finish in either tenth or eleventh place then the club finishing ninth will be relegated in their place.
In The Co-operative Championship 1 the club finishing in first place at the end of the regular season will win automatic promotion whilst the clubs placed second to seventh will enter the play-offs with the eventual winner being promoted.
* Repucom International survey – September 2009