Super League attendances smash records over Easter weekend

Featured image credit: Paul/ CC BY-SA 3.0/ Edited for size

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

Organisers made the decision in consideration of player welfare, but the move also proved a hit with supporters. A total of 83,357 attended the six rugby league matches across the bank holiday weekend in the UK. 

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

The average attendance of 13,892 is also a record for any Super League round since the competition launched in 1996, beating the 13,196 figure posted during the same Easter round in 2019. 

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

MKM Stadium (pictured) also welcomed a crowd of 20,985 for Hull FC’s match against Hull Kingston Rovers (KR). This was the highest attendance for Hull FC since 2009. 

Women’s rugby league also saw record-breaking crowds, with 5,308 attending the opening fixture of the Women’s Super League season between Leeds Rhinos and York Valkyrie at Headingley, on Easter Sunday. The total beat the 4,235 gate for the BWSL Grand Final in 2021, which was a stand-alone fixture at Headingley. 

“What a magnificent weekend it has been,” said Frank Slevin, chair of RL Commercial. “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.”

Outside of the Super League, three Championship clubs also 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 all welcomed large crowds. 

Slevin added: “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.”