Well on Saturday we see a historic clash at the Camp Nou in Barcelona as Catalans Dragons take on Champions Wigan.
The Rugby League community, as always, is split on the significance of the game but surely this is one of the most important games of Rugby League for years?
Barcelona have 26 million followers on twitter alone and the club is using it’s social media outlets to promote the sport to its fans. That alone justifies this fixture being taken away from Perpignan. The reach they have is something our great game can only dream off let’s hope the Catalonians will get behind the team that plays under their banner.
The idea came about after the Dragons won at Wembley last year and were invited to showcase the Challenge Cup at half time of the derby between Barcelona and Girona. Having learned that the Dragons had played at the Olympic Stadium , home of local rivals Espanyol, club President Jose Maria Bartomeu invited the club to play on the most famous piece of turf in domestic sport.
Now the M62 brigade have been out with their usual negative comments, mainly focusing on how the stadium will be more than half empty. Well the ground holds 99000 and they are hoping to get 30000 people in the ground for the game. That is around 30% of it’s capacity and yes there will be noticeable gaps. The usual suspects in the media will point to this and maybe they have a point but a 30000 crowd will smash the attendance record for a regular season Super League game by nearly 25%, obviously discounting magic.
The current record stands at just over 25000 and this does look likely to be broken. So I suppose it depends how you view it. Personally I think it’s a massive opportunity for the sport in general but mainly for the Dragons themselves . It’d be superb if they could take their game against whoever the Champions are every year to Camp Nou. It has to be worth it when you see our great game getting this kind of exposure. It would be wonderful for the fans of other clubs to get the chance to watch their side in this iconic stadium, a soon to be refurbished stadium. I certainly wish I was one of the Rugby League fans on their way to this great City. Whilst the Wigan fans are excited to be watching a game in this fabulous arena I can only imagine how excited the players must be.
I hope the Dragons win the game, yes this isn’t a side playing like Champions, but they will be billed as that, and it would be great for the locals to see their side beat the Champions.
Whatever happens this has to be a great opportunity for Rugby League and we can only hope the 2 sides, who are the League and Cup holders, put on a show (and not a one sided bore fest like the game at the DW).
So is the glass half empty or half full? You know what I think, we’d love your thoughts too.