The 2023 Betfred Super League season is 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 are already guaranteed, at the traditional Good Friday derbies in Wigan and Hull, and advanced ticket sales suggest the Super League record aggregate attendance for a single round of 79,173 could be broken.
Catalans Dragons will have 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.
Leeds Rhinos are also hoping to record one of the highest attendances for a Women’s Rugby League fixture in England when they launch their defence of the BWSL title on Easter Sunday with a repeat of the 2022 Grand Final against York, now known as the Valkyrie, in the first part of a double header which also includes their men’s team taking on West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Giants.
The BWSL record is 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.”
After six completed rounds of the Betfred Super League season, the average attendance was 9,047 – a 7.9% increase on the corresponding stage in 2022, and the highest figure since 2012.
In the Betfred Championship, the average crowd after seven full rounds was 2,179 – up by 9.8% on 2022, with the aggregate attendance up 7.5% at 104,572 – and meaning that the total crowds across both competitions will pass 500,000 over the Easter weekend.
The record Betfred Super League aggregate crowd for a single round of 79,173 was set over the Easter weekend in 2019.