Wood hails Challenge Cup appeal

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has hailed the enduring appeal of the Carnegie Challenge Cup as Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious knockout competition heads for a memorable finale at Wembley on Saturday (August 27, 2.30).

As Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors prepare to do battle in what is expected to be the most closely fought finals of recent times, Wood has revealed that the Challenge Cup continues to be one of the sport’s biggest drawcards.

“This year’s Carnegie Challenge Cup has produced some memorable contests, including two televised matches decided by golden point, and all the signs point to the final being just as tough to call,” said Wood.

“The excitement of the ties we have seen in 2011 is reflected in the viewing figures on BBC Television which have increased by 21.3 per cent compared to 2010 and are 26.8 per cent higher than they were in 2009.

Challenge Cup ties on the BBC are now watched by an average of almost one million people and the viewing audience will be far in excess of that total on Saturday.”

Despite the tough economic climate in 2011, the aggregate attendance at all Carnegie Challenge Cup ties so far this year has also increased compared to last year.

“The number of people attending Challenge Cup ties between the third round and the semi-finals has grown by 3.2 per cent since last year and increased by more than 17 per cent over the last five years,” said Wood.

“That testifies to the stature of a competition which remains one of the most popular in British sport.

“I am sure all the people who have already purchased, or are planning to purchase, tickets to see two of the biggest clubs in Rugby League go head to head at Wembley and everyone watching on TV can expect to see a match that will live long in the memory.”

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