The festival of Championship rugby league hit West Yorkshire over the weekend as, for the first time, the Summer Bash was held at the home of Leeds Rhinos – Headingley.
Having moved from the home of Blackpool FC at Bloomfield Road, organisers decided on the Leeds venue despite the attraction of Blackpool and a weekend for all the family.
Unfortunately, with the move, the crowds didn’t follow with just 10,763 making the trip over the two days at Headingley which makes that the lowest crowd in six years of the Bash with the lowest ever crowd on a Sunday.
The latter statistic perhaps isn’t surprising with Bradford Bulls taking on Halifax Panthers as well as Leigh Centurions’ fixture against Featherstone Rovers both taking place on the Saturday.
That left Barrow Raiders to take on Widnes Vikings, Whitehaven to do battle against Workington Town and Newcastle Thunder to come up against York City Knights on the Sunday.
For some reason, organisers didn’t split up Bradford-Halifax and Featherstone-Leigh which are the four most well-supported sides in the second tier.
With the disappointing attendance number resonating throughout rugby league, fans have been hoping for a switch back to Blackpool for 2023.
For Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont, he would have preferred to see it stay in Blackpool as well.
“I’d rather have seen it stay in Blackpool because of the novelty – I didn’t think it would get attended as well at Headingley,” Beaumont told Serious About Rugby League.
“That’s nothing against Headingley, it’s a fantastic facility and given Blackpool isn’t available for whatever reason, it is a good location but there’s no novelty factor.
“With Blackpool it is a holiday destination, everybody gets there and has a party – I just don’t think Headingley has that.”
It remains to be seen which destination will host the Summer Bash in 2023, with Serious About Rugby League contacting the RFL for comment on the potential venue.