Exclusive: Why Blackpool didn’t host this year’s Summer Bash as Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley took centre stage

Summer Bash safety

The Summer Bash is arguably one of the greatest moments in the calendar for Championship teams.

For five years, however, the concept was held at Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road to allow supporters from each team to experience the sunshine of the coast and make a weekend of it.

Of course, that venue switched to Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley for the 2022 event with a lot less excitement surrounding the weekend in the middle of the city rather than on the west coast.

However, after being contacted by Serious About Rugby League, an RFL spokesperson revealed just why Headingley was chosen and whether or not the Bash will return to Blackpool for 2023.

“We’ll review this year’s event and consult with clubs,” the RFL told Serious About Rugby League.

“It was mostly a timing issue which ruled Blackpool out this year, with Challenge Cup and 1895 Finals in May we were looking for later in the summer at which point Blackpool and other football clubs are reluctant because they’ve already relaid pitch for new season.

“That was even more concerning this year with the football season starting so early because of the World Cup at the end of the year this time around.”

Unfortunately, with the move, the crowds didn’t follow with just 10,763 making the trip over the two days at Headingley which makes that the lowest crowd in six years of the Bash with the lowest ever crowd on a Sunday.

The latter statistic perhaps isn’t surprising with Bradford Bulls taking on Halifax Panthers as well as Leigh Centurions’ fixture against Featherstone Rovers both taking place on the Saturday.

That left Barrow Raiders to take on Widnes Vikings, Whitehaven to do battle against Workington Town and Newcastle Thunder to come up against York City Knights on the Sunday.

For some reason, organisers didn’t split up Bradford-Halifax and Featherstone-Leigh which are the four most well-supported sides in the second tier.

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