Wigan Warriors: RL Commercial chief ‘blown away’ by World Club Challenge ticket sales, hints at taking spectacle overseas in 2025

Ben Olawumi
2019 World Club Challenge

Teams walk out at the DW Stadium ahead of the 2019 World Club Challenge between Wigan Warriors and Sydney Roosters - Alamy

RL Commercial Director Rhodri Jones says he’s ‘blown away’ by Wigan Warriors’ World Club Challenge ticket sales and admitted taking the showpiece to Las Vegas in years to come is something they’re more than interested in.

In their latest sales update, Wigan announced earlier this week that the 22,000 mark had been surpassed for their showdown with NRL kings Penrith Panthers at the DW Stadium on February 24.

Over a month before the game, sales have already gone beyond the attendance from the last time the Warriors were involved in a World Club Challenge, losing out on home soil to Sydney Roosters in 2019 in front of 21,331.

Indeed, the way things are going, this is set to be the highest attendance for one of these games in this country since 2011, when St George Illawarra Dragons‘ win at the DW attracted 24,268 spectators.

Wigan Warriors: RL Commercial chief ‘blown away’ by World Club Challenge ticket sales

Speaking at a press event at the RFL‘s headquarters yesterday morning, Jones praised both the Cherry and Whites & the Panthers for their work in getting to this point, and admitted it’s another opportunity to put rugby league in the spotlight.

He said: “I’m blown away by the number of ticket sales that they have done already, and I think it will sell out in the next week, if not before, which will be fantastic.

“All credit to Wigan for doing all of that. We support on the periphery, so we’ll help with the profile of the game and certain events in the week, but it is very much down to Wigan and Penrith in terms of making the game a success.

“We and the NRL obviously held the first initial discussions, getting the two teams on board and in the same room.

“We sat alongside Wigan and Penrith, but ultimately, Wigan and Penrith have come to the table and finalised the negotiations and the terms.

“In terms of the sport capitalising on it, potentially, it will get seen by more people than ever before, depending on how our free-to-air conversations go.

“What a great platform. The new marquee player understanding between us and the players and clubs, when we re-did the player marquee regulations last year, we said we’d like to get something out of it.

“The ability to use these players more to front our campaigns and all those sort of bits and pieces. Going forward now, we’ll have more access than ever to the marquee players who are the superstars of the game.

“Fortunately, some of those will be on the field in that game, and alongside Penrith, who we’re expecting to be at full strength, it’s going to be a great night.”

Rhodri Jones hints at taking World Cub Challenge spectacle elsewhere in 2025 and beyond

Seven days after Penrith’s trip to the North West, four of their NRL counterparts will be kicking off the Australian elite’s 2024 season 5,051 miles away in Las Vegas.

In an unprecedented double-header at the Allegiant Stadium, March 2 sees the Manly Sea Eagles take on South Sydney Rabbitohs while Sydney Roosters take on the side Penrith beat in the 2023 Grand Final, Brisbane Broncos.

Around those two fixtures, the NRL have organised a ‘festival of rugby league’, attracting fans old and new, and created partnerships including one with the UFC.

Providing it’s the success it promises to be, this will be the first edition of numerous games held elsewhere in the world, and RL Commercial boss Jones admitted they’d like the World Club Challenge to be an addition to that, providing it was viable.

Jones continued: “It was too late this time, and I think the NRL have made a significant statement by taking some games to Las Vegas.

“I think they wanted as much ability to make it a success for them and the way they wanted to do it. I understand that ticket sales are going well in Las Vegas as well.

“It will be really interesting to see where that goes, and I do think there’s a future of the World Club Challenge to be a part of that weekend if that weekend continues, depending on where it will be on the world, of course.”

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