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Rivals Round smashes amazing attendance record

The 2023 Betfred Super League season was set to scale new heights over the Easter weekend, with all six matches of the Rivals Round and the opening match of the Betfred Women’s Super League season shown live on Sky Sports for the first time.

Two crowds of more than 20,000 were guaranteed well ahead of time, at the traditional Good Friday derbies in Wigan and Hull, and ticket sales suggest the Super League record aggregate attendance for a single round of 79,173 could be broken.

It has been with a huge 83,357 aggregate attendance over the weekend helped by nearly 21,000 fans for the Hull derby and 24,275 at Wigan in the biggest crowd there since 2005.

Catalans Dragons had their biggest crowd of the season at Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan for the meeting of the top two teams in the table on Saturday evening – helped by a travelling following of more than 500 Warrington Wolves supporters.

Meanwhile a record attendance for the Women’s Super League was recorded at Headingley of 5,308.

The prior record was 4,235, set at Headingley for the 2021 Grand Final between Leeds and St Helens, while there were attendances of 5,888 for last year’s Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final between the same teams at Elland Road, and 8,621 for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup opener between England and Brazil in November, also at Headingley.

Rhodri Jones, the Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial, said:

“It’s been a successful start to the 2023 season across the sport, but this week we will move to another level.

“It will be the first time the Betfred Super League Rivals Round has been spread across the Easter weekend, with all six matches to be shown live on Sky Sports – superb exposure for the competition, and a feast of action for fans and viewers.

“The start of the Betfred Women’s Super League season adds another dimension, with the steady growth of Women’s Rugby League in recent years turbocharged by the World Cup last autumn – and it’s fantastic that Sky Sports will be showing the stand-alone opening fixture from Headingley, which promises to be a great game and another superb occasion.

“The Easter weekend is special across Rugby League, and with attendances also on an upward trend in the Betfred Championship and League One, there are plenty more local derbies to look forward to outside Super League – culminating in Halifax Panthers versus Bradford Bulls live on Viaplay on Easter Monday night.

“We have listened to players and fans in reverting to a single round across the Easter weekend in all competitions, and we are confident that the sport will reap benefits from that in the coming weeks and months, as without the demands of playing two matches in quick succession, players remain fitter and fresher for the challenges of the spring and summer – with more blockbuster league fixtures followed by England’s Mid-Season Internationals in April, and the Super League clubs entering the Betfred Challenge Cup in May on the road to Wembley in August.”

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