One week into the Rugby League World Cup, the main topic of conversation continues to revolve around stadium attendances and ticket prices.
Just over 95,000 fans attended the opening eight games of the men’s tournament – including 43,000 alone for England’s group clash against Samoa.
Rugby legend Jason Robinson said the current financial crisis is making it difficult for people to attend games.
Nevertheless, the Wigan great also believes the tournament is still far more affordable than international events in other sports.
“I think sometimes you miss the point,” he told Love Rugby League. “If you look at the climate we’re living in at the moment, people are wondering how to put the heating on, let alone go to 61 large fixtures.
“I know from working with Jon Dutton and the team behind the scenes – this will be the biggest and the best World Cup there’s ever been, there’s no doubt about it.
“There will always be, especially at the start of the tournament, empty seats in stadiums. Sometimes there’s talk about how much tickets are costing. I’ve been in rugby union for quite a while, and if you look at the cost of going to a rugby union international or a football international, it dwarfs anything in rugby league.
“I know now if I was going to get a ticket for the Rugby union World Cup next year, it would be an absolute fortune.
“Wherever there’s a tournament you’re always going to have people that are only happy when they’re miserable and complaining. For me, children can go to some of the games for £2.21. That in itself is unbelievable.
“It’s the World Cup. You’re seeing the best players at a World Cup. It’s funny isn’t it, people can go to McDonalds and spend £15 and then complain about watching international sport… it beggars belief.”
World Cup attendances so far
- England 60-6 Samoa – 41,119
- Australia 42-8 Fiji – 13,666
- Scotland 4-28 Italy – 6,206
- Jamaica 2-48 Ireland – 6,320
- New Zealand 34-12 Lebanon – 5,453
- France 34-12 Greece – 4,182
- Tonga 24-18 Papua New Guinea – 10,409
- Wales 12-18 Cook Islands – 6,188
Focus on the games
Robinson was speaking in association with Farah menswear, the off-field clothing partner of the Jamaican Rugby League World Cup team.
The 48-year-old believes it’s time to focus on the athletes and the good work off the field, rather than the negatives.
He added: “I know the work that has been done behind the scenes. You can’t just give every ticket away. Stadiums have to be hired, everything has to be done.
“The first week is always the challenging week. It’s the games that build the momentum. We’ve been talking about this World Cup for a long long time and it seems like we’ve been saying the same things because it’s been put back a year.
“Now, all the attention should be on the athletes that are playing, the skills that we’re seeing. It’s great seeing new players – players I haven’t seen before doing some amazing things. I’ve paid my money to watch all the games.
“I’m just going to focus on all the great things that are happening, all the money that’s been invested in grassroots clubs all around the country to inspire young people to pick up a ball. The new pitches, the new floodlights, the new equipment.
“A tournament that is going to be the most inclusive there’s ever been with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair all running at the same time. The prize money is equal. There’s so many things that we should be shouting about as a sport. The negatives should not even be murmured because there are very, very few.”
Farah menswear has been entwined with Jamaican culture since the 1970s and has continued that tradition, as the official off-field clothing partner for the Jamaican Rugby League World Cup team.