ngland's Dom Young gets off to a Flyer at RLWC2021 (Getty Images)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Rugby League World Cup 2021 is continuing to reach new audiences with millions of people from around the world watching the tournament’s opening round of fixtures, which kicked off at St James’ Park on Saturday 15 October.

With every minute of every match broadcast live on the BBC, it is no surprise that the tournament’s opening clash between England men and Samoa is the most watched match so far, with a peak audience of 1.8 million people tuning in to watch Shaun Wane’s side despatch the dangerous Samoan team in emphatic fashion.

England’s follow-up victory over France was watched on the BBC by a peak of 1.5 million while matches featuring the home nations have unsurprisingly proven popular with a combined audience of 2 million tuning in to watch the matches between Tonga v Wales and Scotland v Italy. The total combined audience for matches so far is approaching an impressive 10 million.

Despite every game being able to watch free to air, it hasn’t prevented thousands of fans from flocking through the gates. Over 43,000 were at St James’ Park for the tournament’s opening game which contributed to a new opening day record; the crowd at Bolton for England v France was the biggest to watch the two nations in 65 years, while the double-header of World Cup finals at Old Trafford is on course to sell out.

In total, 165,000 people have witnessed one of the matches live so far in stadia. That number is set to increase significantly as the men’s tournament approaches its quarter-final stage and the women’s and wheelchair competitions kick off in the next few days.

In addition, fans of rugby league have also shown an impressive appetite for the tournament online, with millions of supporters flocking to RLWC2021’s website and social media channels over the last couple of weeks to stay up to date with the tournament, with over five million video views and 20 million impressions across various digital platforms.

Audiences are growing at approximately 10% week on week across the RLWC’s social channels, with the dedicated App, Our League also experiencing significant growth.

On launch, the RLWC2021 app delivered a record-breaking number of viewers on the live stream of England’s warm up fixture with Fiji which has continued throughout the tournament delivering records across, registrations, downloads and engagements.

This includes:

  • Over 250,000 members with over 20,000 signing up this record-breaking month so far.
  • Over 40,000 app downloads by the middle of this month.
  • Over 20,000 players of the RLWC Predictor Game so far.

Rugby League World Cup 2021, Chief Executive, Jon Dutton said:

“It’s been a brilliant opening couple of weeks of the tournament, and it’s been great to see thousands of supporters in the ground and millions tuning in across, TV, online and social platforms to take in the exhilarating action that the athletes are delivering for us.

“As the men’s tournament approaches the knockout stage and the women’s and wheelchair competitions get set to begin, excitement around the tournament is continuing to build and coverage will be even more extensive.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see so many people engage and interact directly with the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in its various formats, and it bodes well for the sport’s future that our content across social is attracting audiences from younger demographics.

“This tournament has been trailblazing and history-making in its approach from day one and these figures are incredibly encouraging as we look ahead to how we continue to grow our fantastic sport once this World Cup is over.”