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Challenge Cup semi-final attendance in Doncaster revealed

Wigan Warriors are in the Challenge Cup Final

The first of the men’s Challenge Cup semi-finals for 2024 is now in the books with Wigan Warriors handing out a rugby league lesson against an ill-disciplined Hull KR side to progress to Wembley and end the Robins’ hopes of a second consecutive final.

Wigan’s performance was a stark turnaround to the one in Super League just three weeks ago when they were humbled by Hull KR with the Robins running out as 26-10 winners at Craven Park.

Since that loss, Matt Peet’s side had poured the points on against Catalans and Huddersfield before running out 38-6 winners today meaning that their aggregate score since that loss sits at a remarkable 116-22.

With such a brilliant display of Challenge Cup Rugby League being paired with wonderful weather too, you’d expect a huge crowd to pack out Doncaster’s 15,000-capacity Eco-Power Stadium, particularly given the immense support both clubs have. Sadly, that wasn’t the case though with a reported attendance of just 11,163.

Questions now surely have to be asked about the validity of neutral venues for Challenge Cup semi-finals.

An impressive Challenge Cup attendance in Doncaster?

The crowd of 11,163 beats the 10,926 that turned up at Headingley for the semi-final between these two clubs last season.

Today’s attendance is about average for a cup semi-final, but how does it rate compared to other rugby league matches that have taken place at the same stadium in Doncaster.

The last rugby league match before today to have taken place at the venue was in 2022 during the Rugby League World Cup. That saw 6,968 fans turn out for Papua New Guinea against Wales.

Two other matches took place at the Eco-Power Stadium (formerly Keepmoat Stadium) in the competition with 4,415 attending Samoa against Greece and 4,182 in attendance for France’s clash with Greece.

The real comparisons of today’s crowd though come up against other Challenge Cup semi-finals to have taken place in Doncaster.

In 2017 an impressive 14,526 turned up to nearly sell out the venue when Hull FC beat Leeds Rhinos 43-24.

The year before saw a much poorer crowd though, with just 10,488 witnessing Hull’s 16-12 triumph over Wigan Warriors.

All the way back in 2011, 13,158 attended Leeds’ dramatic golden point win against Castleford Tigers.

Taking all that into consideration, today’s crowd comes in about average. However, it is still slightly underwhelming that a Challenge Cup semi-final between two major teams can’t sell out a 15,000-capacity stadium.

It will be interesting to see what crowd tomorrow’s other semi-final between Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants attracts at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with the Wire faithful expected to outnumber their opponents considerably.

All eyes will then be on Wembley, with the potential of a Wigan-Warrington final sure to bring decent numbers to the national stadium.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. John

    May 19, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    Not a difficult prediction. Most other fans outnumber the Giants “faithful”.

  2. Neil

    May 19, 2024 at 10:11 pm

    I didn’t go because I was at the last wigan game there, 2016 i think. It took longer to get home after, than it will to get to wembley. 45miles over m62 I believe, it took 4.5hours. Not good after a thumping. I’m saving my time & money for “a day in the big smoke”. I know this isn’t really loyal to the team but it wasn’t an unlucky draw from the hat, it was decided by a person at rfl / bbc. Would have gone to kr had it been drawn that way but rather take my chance on a day at Wembley than waste my time & money on that soulless stadium and endorsement of rfl decisions. Sure Huddersfield felt same today travelling over the pennines. Why can’t the draw include venues, ie 1st drawn gets home tie. Kr or wigan with a home crowd would have been bigger, poss same with wire at home.

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