There’s nothing quite like an incredible stadium cacophony to enhance your rugby league experience. But just how do the Super League stadia rank in terms of the best atmosphere?
1. The Mend-a-Hose Jungle – Castleford Tigers
It might be dilapidated, but there is just something special about attending a game at the Jungle. From the proximity of fans to the pitch, you can hear everything shouted on the terraces – which often puts the fear of God into travelling teams. When opposition fans visit, they often label it as one of the most hostile atmospheres in the country and is there any wonder when the chant of “gerrin’ to ’em” starts to fill the iconic ground like a raucous Yorkshire opera. One of the few traditional stadiums left, it is a truly iconic experience and one like no other in Super League.
2. Headingley – Leeds Rhinos
Having modern facilities and keeping that traditional rugby league atmosphere is no mean feat, but Leeds appear to have achieved this which they owe to the noise their loyal Southstanders continue to provide. Fans may be able to question the lack of a roof on the away end at Headingley, they can’t however question the atmosphere, which is why it is ranked so highly. Of course, that band is often the subject of jibes from opposition fans, but you can’t say it isn’t unique, if rather annoying after a while.
3. Craven Park – Hull KR
Hull KR moved to New Craven Park in 1989 after just short of 70 years at Old Craven Park. The stadium has been refurbished since Rovers were promoted to Super League in 2006 and now has a capacity of over 12,000. The East Stand generates the noise and is considered the Kop end of the ground, while the Colin Hutton North Stand, which was erected ahead of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, gives the venue a modern feel and has brought fans closer to the action. A hardy set of supporters, they certainly make their presence felt, making it one of the antagonistic atmospheres you will experience.
4. The Halliwell Jones Stadium – Warrington Wolves
Surging into fourth place is Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium. Many Wire supporters were upset when the club departed Wilderspool in 2003 but their new home has been able to recreate much of that atmosphere thanks to the terraced South Stand, which accommodates the more vocal home supporters. The ground is one of many people’s favourite modern-day rugby league stadiums and is often the venue for semi-finals and major events. Having the stands close to the pitch helps the aura too and visiting fans make the trip in numbers.
5. MKM Stadium – Hull FC
The only football ground to make the top five, KCOM Stadium (formerly known as KC Stadium) has been the home of Hull FC since 2003. Hull have somewhat found it tough to recreate the colour and noise of their former Boulevard home which is why it is only at number five, but the KCOM is capable of producing a great atmosphere, especially when near full capacity for the Hull derby. It also helps having such a vocal following which can supersede the soulless nature of a brand spanking, new venue.
6. The Be Well Support Stadium – Wakefield Trinity
Belle Vue, as it is more commonly known, has been the home of Wakefield since 1879. Despite talks of a move away from the ground for many years, it remains the long-standing home of Trinity and is one of the game’s more traditional venues. With this comes an old-school atmosphere which was cited by many for the reason it was included in their top three. Inches away from the action, the Wakefield fans certainly make their presence known, though the ‘Benidorm flats’ at one end of the ground somewhat stifles a surround sound.
7. Stade Gilbert Brutus – Catalans Dragons
The home of the Catalans Dragons is a cauldron of noise; the only trouble is that most of it is directed at the referee which often ruins the overall atmosphere. Away fans love to travel to Perpignan, though the view from the Gods in the right-hand corner of the ground leaves a lot to be desired. The stadium would also benefit from four stands, rather than just the three that surrounds the field. That being said, the French experience is definitely one that fans will always remember.
8. Totally Wicked Stadium – St Helens
The joint-newest ground on the list, St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium has had mixed reviews from supporters since it opened as ‘Langtree Park’ in 2012. It would be fair to say Saints have struggled to bring the intimidating atmosphere from Knowsley Road to their new home, but it still offers a good level of noise for the big games, such as the Good Friday derby clash with Wigan, though throughout the season the same cannot be said.
9. Stade Ernest Wallon – Toulouse Olympique
Coming in at number nine is the newly-promoted Toulouse Olympique’s venue the Stade Ernest Wallon. Despite holding 19,500 – which rarely gets filled on matchdays, the Ernest Wallon creates a din that ranks up there with the best. However, the atmosphere does not rival the Stade Gilbert Brutus – its French rival – just yet, but getting into the top flight may go some way in ensuring the gap is closed.
10. AJ Bell Stadium – Salford Red Devils
Alongside St Helens in 2012, Salford also opened their new AJ Bell Stadium in the same year. Whilst the Willows boasted a superb atmosphere, the AJ Bell somewhat lacks. And, the fact that it is hardly ever full ruins what positive atmosphere could have been generated. Those Salford supporters that do occupy the stands, however, make their voices heard, but that just isn’t enough to impress on a major scale.
11. DW Stadium – Wigan Warriors
Sorry Wigan fans, but the DW Stadium just doesn’t excite away fans as a venue. It is, of course, stifled by the empty seats that only ever get filled when St Helens come to town for the derby – and that’s no fault of the Wigan club itself considering the ground . Yes, the facilities are fantastic behind the stands, but once out there it is often a let down – unless a team with many supporters come to town like Salford did in the Super League elimination semi-final back in 2019.
12. John Smith’s Stadium – Huddersfield Giants
I think the John Smith’s Stadium firmly ranks as every away fan’s worst nightmare in terms of atmosphere. It’s also no surprise that the bottom two stadia on this list are ones mainly built for football and bigger crowds. Huddersfield have never filled the John Smith’s for a home game, with semi-finals often struggling to fill the venue too. It is just too large for a rugby league side and that dampens the atmosphere considerably.