This week as we head over to the home of Leeds Rhinos, the newly renamed AMT Headingley Stadium, for the final test between England and Tonga a lot has been made about whether this was a well planned and advertised Test Series.
Many have questioned the stadium selections for one. The RFL turned to trusted Super League venues rather than grounds from around the country with St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium and Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium hosting the first two tests.
In the past, Test Series have seen England go to West Ham’s London Stadium and of course in the World Cup last year England only played at one Super League ground in the shape of Wigan Warriors’ DW Stadium.
Instead, they played at Newcastle United’s St James’ Stadium, in Bolton, Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and of course the semi-final at Arsenal’s Emirates.
As these questions have been raised, the attendances have only exacerbated the questioning. Game one saw a crowd of less than 13,000 at St Helens which was more than St Helens’ yearly average but didn’t get close enough to capacity for many people’s likening.
Meanwhile, a crowd of 11,210 was a long way off Huddersfield’s capacity but was still a strong crowd when compared to Super League attendances. Nonetheless, fans have questioned the advertising and marketing around the games.
However, the games have done terrific numbers on BBC. According to RugbyleagueonTV the first test had an average of 565,000 with an 8.5% audience share. The viewing figures peaked at 642,000.
The second test was even better averaging the 642,000 figure whilst peaking at 795,000 with an audience share of 9.6%.
So, this is truly impressive and a good look for the sport. It is often important to remember that this is what broadcasters look at and also the focus of the NRL most of the time. The competition we strive to be like focuses more on TV numbers and that was also the focus of the World Cup. More eyes on the sport can only be a good thing.
Hopefully the third test has a big TV audience and a strong crowd in attendance as well.