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Rankings: The Five most atmospheric stadiums in the Championship

Bradford Bulls' Odsal Stadium - a Championship ground.

The RFL Championship, despite being the second division, is home to some of the country’s best rugby league grounds.

Stadiums are incredibly important for the rugby league experience, and we’ve ranked the best, taking into account everything that affects this: it could be how modern a stadium is, how many fans it can fit, how well it holds an atmosphere, how easy it is to get to on an away day, or more.

With Super League on a break this week for the Challenge Cup, it means that domestic league action will be focused on the Championship and we’ve selected our top five Championship stadiums.

The best RFL Championship stadiums ranked

5. The Shay – Halifax Panthers

Halifax Panthers stadium the Shay

Credit: Alex Whitehead/

This a place with so much history: opened in 1921, it has been the home of Halifax Town since it opened and the Panthers since the 1990s.

It may not be the most modern place to watch a game of Championship rugby, but it’s a great one to attend.

The main stand looks terrific on matchday, and is capable of holding over 10,000.

It played host to Tonga v Italy in the 2013 World Cup, and a packed-out crowd made it a memorable occasion.

4. York Community Stadium – York Knights

LNER Community Stadium, York, England - A general view as Castleford Tigers warm up

Credit: Will Palmer/

For us, this is the best new-build stadium in the Championship.

What sets it apart from Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium is that it has a bit more flair, it’s a bit easier to walk around, and it’s a bit nicer to approach.

It is 15 years newer, and you can tell. It has the bells and whistles that you expect in 2024.

You can also see why it was chosen for 2023’s Summer Bash: easy to get to, and big enough to hold a number of fans without being too big to hold an atmosphere.

It’s a nice experience, so it’s on the list.

3. Halton Stadium – Widnes Vikings

General view of an empty Halton Stadium - black seats, with VIKINGS in white lettering.

Credit: Imago Images

This is a proper rugby league ground.

Opened in 1895, it’s seen numerous redevelopments since, but has kept its character.

It’s hosted numerous Challenge Cup semi-finals and St Helens for a season, and outside of rugby, has been home to Everton and Liverpool’s women’s football teams, Widnes Football Club and the Halton Spartans American football team.

It gets selected to host so much for a reason: it’s modern, but with plenty of character, and at 13,350, has a very healthy capacity for rugby league.

During Widnes’ Super League days, it held a very decent atmosphere, despite being usually less than half full, which is a testament to the ground.

2. Stade Ernest-Wallon – Toulouse Olympique

Players warm up before a Championship match at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, which has red and black seats. It's large, but yet to fill up with fans.

Credit: Olly Hassell/

This is the second-largest stadium in the league, even bigger than most Super League grounds.

It’s home to Stade Toulousain – who have the biggest fanbase of any European rugby union club – so it’s held to high standards.

The French national rugby league team have played there on occasion, and it has also played host to France Sevens, various national union matches and even a Davis Cup tennis fixture.

You can be right near the pitch, and there isn’t a single bad seat in the house. The cheap drinks are a bonus as well!

Toulouse Olympique moved there in 2020, and it has certainly been the first thing that fans look for on the fixture list, as it’s a great day out and a great city.

1. Belle Vue – Wakefield Trinity

General Stadium View during the Super League match between Wakefield Trinity and Castleford at Belle Vue

Credit: Imago Images

Belle Vue has the best atmosphere in the league.

So much of the experience as a rugby league fan is getting a taste of the passion for the game, and there’s nowhere better in the league.

Since 1895, Wakefield have played at the famous old ground, which not long ago, looked a bit worse for wear.

However, the brand-new main stand has given it a new lease of life, and has certainly improved its appeal.

It seems that more development is on the way before long as well, as the club has an owner with plenty of ambition for the ground.

We may see this in Super League before long, but for now, it’s the RFL Championship’s best stadium.

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