The multinational BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) says improved fan engagement campaigns have helped it to break attendance records this season.
The tournament, which features the top teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales, will conclude its 2022-23 season with this weekend’s sold-out grand final between DHL Stormers and Munster at the 55,000-capacity DHL Stadium in Cape Town. Total crowds will total more than 1.6 million following the final.
Average attendances grew to just shy of 10,000 (9,893) per match for the regular season, which is the highest average the league has ever recorded. All 16 teams in the BKT URC experienced an increase in average attendance from the 2021-22 season with overall match attendance up 36%.
A total of 1,424,520 attended the regular season games in rounds one to 18 with a further 152,954 coming to the six quarter-final and semi-final matches. The 55,000 tickets sold for the grand final this weekend will see that figure for the play-off games top over 200,000 and set a new overall season record of 1,632,114.
Additionally, Leinster’s semi-final against Munster set a record attendance of 26,795 for a play-off game in the UK and Ireland other than a final.
Martin Anayi, chief executive of the URC, said: “We are blown away by the attendance records set across the league this season. Our teams put tremendous work into improving their match-day experiences for fans and promoting their games and this should give everyone in rugby great encouragement for next season.
“We are early days still for the URC but it is clear that fans are responding to the draw of the South African sides and the 18-round format which has increased jeopardy and competition across the board. The sell-out crowd in Cape Town this weekend is a fantastic sign of interest in URC, however, we are just as pleased with setting a new record for regular season attendances and there should be great pride across all 16 teams in that collective achievement.”