Fans have been pining for rugby league and today marks the first pre-season game of the 2023 season and one of the last times that we’ll see rugby league in 2022.
One of those games on today is Leeds Rhinos hosting Wakefield Trinity in the traditional Boxing Day challenge, with Wakefield having been Rhinos’ opponent on this date since 2005.
Since 2009 Rhinos have been dominant in the fixture and have hosted it on all but one of those occasions making the fixture a Headingley tradition.
In the match-up today Rhinos have announced an attendance figure of over 9,000 which is an incredible figure for what’s effectively a friendly, especially considering it was an 11:30 am kick-off on a cold Leeds morning.
This morning’s attendance for the @wetherbywhaler Festive Challenge is 9143, thank you to all the Rhinos and @WTrinityRL fans who have joined us at Headingley, the game is still in the balance with 20 minutes to go 20-14
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) December 26, 2022
Rhinos held the highest average attendance last season at 12,940 so the figure does pale in comparison but it is worth noting that Boxing Day also marks the return of Premier League football, following the World Cup, and features big horse racing events at two Yorkshire racecourses.
Despite all the above factors the Rhinos’ impressive 9,143 attendance figure is clear of the average that eight fellow Super League sides managed in 2022.
Only Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Hull FC and Leeds themselves surpassed the 9,000 mark as an average on the whole season so for the Rhinos to put that figure up in a friendly on a cold Boxing Day morning is incredible.
The attendance was superior to the average attendances of fellow 2022 play-off teams Catalans (8,068), Huddersfield (5,144) and Salford (4,529).
The league average itself last year without the help of Leeds’ huge 12,940 home support to boost it was actually 7,842 meaning that even in a friendly Rhinos have managed to smash that total by over 1300 fans.
Long declaring themselves as the best fans in Super League, despite our report last week highlighting which side best fill their stadium that can be found here stating otherwise, maybe the Leeds fans have a point with this impressive Boxing Day display.
Sadly for the majority of the 9,143 fans in attendance at Headingley today, Leeds lost 38-20 but the game served as a good run-out for both teams with plenty of young players getting valuable reps.