Super League to go to ‘another level’ as it targets record & what IMG changes might be – Paper Talk

James Gordon
DW Stadium

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Officials are hoping that the upcoming Easter weekend ‘Rivals Round’ will set a new Super League record.

All six games are to be shown live on Sky Sports, including the traditional Good Friday fare of the Hull derby and Wigan’s derby against St Helens.

There is only one round of fixtures over Easter, which promises to provide much greater focus on the derby round.

That has seen promotion building up to the round, which starts with Castleford against Wakefield on Thursday, via Sky Sports.

Super League chiefs are hoping to set a new record for aggregate attendance for a single round, which stands at 79,173, set over Easter weekend in 2019.

Early figures show that it is in course to do so, with more than 20,000 tickets already sold at Wigan and Hull.

Wigan said at the back end of last week that they are expecting “the biggest derby in rugby league” to sell out. It’s the first Good Friday derby at DW Stadium since 2019.

Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial, Rhodri Jones, told League Express: “It’s been a successful start to the 2023 season across the sport, but this week we will move to another level.”

IMG changes

As we reported last week, there will be some amendments to IMG’s recent proposals presented to clubs this week.

It is speculated in League Express by editor Martyn Sadler that the changes could be around community engagement, which was a surprising omission from the original grading criteria.

While a change to their plans of removing automatic promotion and relegation seems unlikely, an adjustment to the grading criteria may appease at least some of the dissenters.

Previous plans were to rank all Grade B clubs in order based on the criteria, rather than simply grouping them as per the previous licensing era.

Removing that element would significantly decrease the likelihood of a Championship Grand Final winning team not being elevated at the expense of a lower-placed division rival.

Loan signings could be pivotal

Super League legend Jamie Peacock says loan signings could make the difference for struggling Wakefield.

Trinity have turned to the loan market to refresh a squad that sits bottom of the table after seven rounds.

Writing in his column in The Mirror, Peacock recalled loan deals during his time at Bradford such as Ian Henderson and Adrian Morley.

He said: “It’s good to get some players in who haven’t been in a losing streak: they bring in energy, enthusiasm, some different ideas and that’s what you need to break yourself out of a rut.

Hopefully, for them, it has the right effect in the next few weeks as loan deals can be great business for both the player involved and the club.”

Wigan super club?

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has met his counterpart at Wigan Athletic, Talal Al Hammad, for the first time since the latter took over the football club.

The two clubs share the DW Stadium, which is owned by the football club who are currently in the Championship relegation zone.

Wigan Today reports that “the duo discussed ways of both clubs working closer together for mutual benefit… such as marketing, merchandising, ticketing and even joint season tickets could be looked at to boost the profile and brand of both clubs.”

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