Rivals Round fuels SL attendances

The Betfred Super League set a number of attendance records over the Easter weekend following the decision to play a single Rivals Round and spread the six fixtures over four days.

The decision was motivated largely by player welfare considerations, but has also proved a huge hit with supporters – with a total of 83,357 attending the six matches.

That is a new record for a single six-match round of Super League fixtures, an increase of more than 5% on the previous record of 79,173 which was set on the first half of the Easter weekend in 2019.

The average attendance of 13,892 is also a record for any round of Super League stretching back to the launch of the competition in 1996, beating 13,196 for that same 2019 Easter round.

A number of other individual records were set.

The capacity crowd of 24,275 for the Good Friday derby between Wigan Warriors and St Helens was the highest at the DW Stadium for 18 years, and the highest for a regular season Super League fixture since the all-time record of 31,555 for the fixture between Catalans Dragons and Wigan which was played at Barcelona’s Camp Nou in 2019.

The crowd of 20,985 for the Hull derby at the MKM Stadium earlier on Good Friday, also a capacity, was Hull FC’s highest since 2009.

And the 5,308 who were in attendance for the opening fixture of the Betfred Women’s Super League season at Headingley on Easter Sunday between Leeds Rhinos and York Valkyrie set a new record for the competition, beating the 4,235 gate for the BWSL Grand Final in 2021 – although that was a stand-alone fixture, also at Headingley.

Frank Slevin, the Chair of RL Commercial, said:

“What a magnificent weekend it has been.

“The action on the pitch has been outstanding, as ever, and in addition to congratulating and thanking the players for that, we should also salute the work of the Betfred Super League clubs and our broadcast partners, led by Sky Sports, who have ensured that the matches have not only been watched by record numbers of spectators but also hundreds of thousands of viewers across the UK and well beyond.

“This is our first Easter weekend since the realignment of the sport, the launch of RL Commercial, and the start of the 12-year partnership with IMG – and also the first time the Rivals Round has been spread throughout the weekend, with all six matches covered live by Sky Sports.

“With capacity crowds in excess of 20,000 in Hull and Wigan, a vibrant Saturday night spectacle in the south of France, and a new record for the Betfred Women’s Super League as part of the Easter Sunday double header at Headingley, we have seen our sport at its very best.

“This does not come out of the blue, as attendances were already on an encouraging upward trend across Super League and the Championship even before the Easter weekend – with the Super League aggregate for the season now approaching half a million, after only eight rounds.

“And of course there is so much more to relish in the coming weeks and months, including the return of England’s Men and Women teams in the Mid-Season Internationals against France, the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend in Newcastle in June, the first double header of Men’s and Women’s Challenge Cup Finals at Wembley in August, followed by the autumn Grand Finals.”

Outside the Super League, three Betfred Championship clubs attracted their highest home crowds of the season on Good Friday – Barrow Raiders against Whitehaven, Batley Bulldogs against Featherstone Rovers, and Swinton Lions against Widnes Vikings.

With the Easter programme to be completed by the Monday Night Championship derby between Halifax Panthers and Bradford Bulls, the total attendance for the weekend across Super League, Championship and League One is set to pass 100,000.

The confirmed attendances from Rivals Round were as follows (all matches live on Sky Sports):

Thursday – Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity 8,075;

Good Friday – Hull FC v Hull KR 20,985 (capacity), Wigan Warriors v St Helens 24,275 (capacity);

Saturday – Leigh Leopards v Salford Red Devils 6,002, Catalans Dragons v Warrington Wolves 10,786;

Easter Sunday – Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants 13,234