Bumper crowds as Super League’s new era kicks off

Supporters enjoying the opening game of the new Super League season at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Denny Solomona celebrates scoring a try with team-mate Jordan Tansey.
Supporters enjoying the opening game of the new Super League season at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Denny Solomona celebrates scoring a try with team-mate Jordan Tansey.

Rugby League’s new era arrived in style at the weekend with bumper attendances at the six First Utility Super League round one matches, including at Castleford’s Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

A total of 63,4354 people streamed through the turnstiles for the season openers, an average of 10,572 per match and a 16 per cent increase on the corresponding fixtures in 2014.

Despite three of last year’s best supported clubs - Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC – kicking off the new season away from home, the first round of fixtures produced four five-figure crowds whilst all six matches recorded increased attendances year on year.

The biggest rise came at the Select Security Stadium on Thursday when the crowd of 9,286 for Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors was 49 per cent higher than the same fixture in 2014.

Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats were watched by 10,728 people at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle on Sunday, a 17 per cent increase on the crowd that watched the same game last season, whilst Huddersfield Giants’ crowd for the visit of Hull FC was 21 per cent up and Hull KR set a new ground record with the crowd of 11,811 when they hosted Leeds Rhinos at the KC Lightstream Stadium.

Super League General Manager Blake Solly said: “The massive crowds we saw at the weekend testify to the huge sense of excitement that surrounds the start of the most keenly anticipated season in Super League history.

“It was a very encouraging first week and I am sure it is a start we will see the clubs build on in the weeks and months to come.

“There are some cracking games coming up this weekend, including Salford Red Devils v champions St Helens on Thursday evening and Hull FC v Warrington Wolves on Friday.

“And next week we welcome NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs plus Brisbane Broncos and St George-Illawarra Dragons to the UK for the World Club Series, when St Helens, Wigan and Warrington will be rocking for what many people regard is the Ryder Cup of Rugby League.

“There is so much at stake every weekend and it’s clear from just round one that both fans and players alike have grasped that every minute really does matter in 2015.”

In addition, the two televised matches, Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors on Thursday evening and St Helens v Catalans Dragons the following night, were watched by more than 440,000 people.