This week I read that this years Engage Super League season has been the best supported year yet. With an average weekly attendance of over 10,000 spectators per match, it’s around a 1000 fan raise per game on last years attendances. In my opinion, this is the kind of progress British Rugby League needs to be making. However, the only way that attendances within the sport will continue to grow is if the sport gains increasing investment and funding. Unfortunately, these kind of large attendance numbers are currently isolated to Super League while National League continues to receive minimal amounts of support and coverage.
This year Sky Sports signed a television deal with the RFL to screen one National League game per week. These games have been scheduled all season for 7:35pm kick off of a Thursday evening. In my opinion, this has both its advantages and disadvantages. I’ve noticed with a number of these Thursday evening games attendances have decreased from what they would be on a Sunday afternoon game. Generally because away fans are forced to travel and many obviously have work and family commitments. I’d never complain about this as I think it can be very hard to drive or travel to a game when your transport leaves around 5pm to make a 7:35pm kick off. However, this television deal gives some much needed investment and, more importantly, coverage into the game.
However, the attendance problems still remain lower down the ladder. There have been many schemes within the game to try and enhance RL attendances in Britain. On the 30th of August this year 4,327 spectators enjoyed a National League 2 game at Boundary Park between the Oldham Roughyeds and Celtic Crusaders. Granted this wasn’t any everyday normal match. Oldham had dropped ticket prices to just £1 and asked for people to make donations to charity. This in my opinion was a fantastic idea. Okay, on one hand the club probably lost some money but that huge attendance figure symbolizes much more. 4,327 fans doesn’t sound much to big Super League fans but for a National League 2 game it’s a huge achievement; especially with the game being scheduled for SKY and on a weeknight.
I really believe the way to carry on the route to increasing attendances with the game is in these initiatives and schemes. For instance, it has also emerged this week that one hundred junior tickets will be put on sale priced at just 1p each for the upcoming Gillette Fusion Centenary International between the Northern Union and the All Golds. The limited amount of tickets will go on sale for the celebratory match at the Halliwell Jones Stadium when an adult ticket is bought along with one under 16’s ticket. This is a brilliant idea to get more youngsters and families involved within the game. On the other hand, it could be a good chance for some of our teens to get their parents and guardians more involved in the sport.
This is where the RFL should really step up and show its loyal followers why they should continue to support the sport. The governing body really needs to take measures to put it’s visions for the game into practice in order to maintain and add to it’s success. Let’s hope that these recent successes and improvements within rugby league is only the beginning. Let’s hope the many faithful rugby league fans of all clubs at all levels can continue their much needed support to work towards a time when British rugby attendances are at an all time high.
It’s a whole different ball game.
She’s a whole different writer.