Saturday, 23 September 2017

Challenge Cup : 1961-2017

This cup competition final is usually played at Wembley Stadium in London. Historically it is a huge day in the RL season but recently hasn't had quite the esteem it used to enjoy. That said, it is still a big prize for the winner and I have given it the respect it deserves by doing this piece on it.

The result: Since 1961, 20 different teams have been in the final and 14 of those have held the trophy aloft after the game. One team stands out, Wigan. They have been to 21 finals of the 57 years I have listed below. St Helens and Leeds have each been to 16 finals and no other club has made double figures.

Now for some trivia:

Most wins: Wigan with 13.
Most consecutive wins: Wigan with eight between 1988 and 1995.
Latest winner: Hull FC who have won it the last two occasions.
Longest cup final loser run: Leeds with three from 2010 to 2012.
Most losses in this time period: Leeds with 10.

Rk Club Tot 1st 2nd

1 Wigan Warriors 102 13 8

2 St Helens RFC 81 11 5

3 Leeds Rhinos 66 6 10

4 Widnes Vikings 42 5 4

5 Hull FC 39 4 5

6 Warrington Wolves 33 4 3

7 Bradford Bulls 24 2 4

8 Castleford Tigers 24 3 2

9 Featherstone Rov 21 3 1

10 Hull KR 18 1 4

11 Wakefield Trinity 18 2 2

12 Huddersfield Giants 9 3

12 Halifax RLFC 9 1 1

14 Leigh Centurions 6 1

14 Sheffield Eagles 6 1

16 Hunslet Hawks 3 1

16 Barrow Raiders 3

16 Salford Red Devils 3

16 London Broncos 3

16 Catalan Dragons 3

Friday, 22 September 2017

UK Super League Attendances : 2016-17 (By Club)

In the final of a trilogy on UK RL attendances for 2017, we look at the elite division, Super League. Hull KR were relegated in 2016 and Leigh Centurions replaced them for 2017. How did things stack up over the 23 rounds of the regular season?

The total attendees went down from 1,260,000 to 1,245,000, a drop of 1.2%. The average went from 9,130 to 9,019. Magic Weekend is a time all the teams gather at one venue for a smorgasbord of RL games. It has been held in the city of Newcastle these past two years and have been well attended, although the total number dropped slightly in 2017 (-4.2%).

Looking at the chart below shows Leeds to be the best supported team. 15,000 turned up each game on average. Wigan managed about 14,000. With four sides unable to muster 6,000, this shows the need to expand the reach of the game.

Please note the Magic W/E attendance is not included in the club averages but is in the total figure and total average. Another point of interest is that Leigh's promotion to SL increased it's average attendance figure by 84%. How much did Hull KR lose with it's average attendance figure when relegated? Only 5.5%.


2017 2016

Leeds 14,950 Leeds 15,886

Wigan 13,983 Wigan 13,497

Hull FC 11,661 Hull FC 11,670

St Helens 10,749 Warrington 11,051

Warrington 10,478 St Helens 10,718

Catalans 8,777 Catalans 9,261

Castleford 8,734 Hull KR 7,775

Leigh 6,522 Castleford 7,474

Huddersfield 5,842 Widnes 5,469

Widnes 5,767 Huddersfield 5,422

Wakefield 5,287 Wakefield 4,866

Salford 4,455 Salford 3,630

Magic W/E 65,407 Magic W/E 68,276

Total 1,244,664 Total 1,259,996

Avg 9,019 Avg 9,130

The M62 corridor should always be a central part of RL in the Northern Hemisphere but there are too many clubs along it in SL. Toronto is new to RL and they played in the third division but they had more fans on average turn up than five SL teams could manage. It's economic necessity that will drive change, along with visionaries like Eric Perez and the open mindedness of the RFL to accept change.

Now looking at all three divisions in combination with each other. The total attendance for 2017 was (drum roll) .............. 1,630,000 compared to 1,544,500, a 5.5% increase. However, there was one extra team so the total attendance per team was 54,400 as opposed to 53,300 or a 2% increase. Yay.

A satisfactory result in the end. How will 2018 pan out? I'm not sure but another 2% increase would be a safe estimate. What do you think?

PS. To see the Championship (div 2) or League 1 (div 3), simply click on them.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

UK League One Attendances : 2016-17 (By Club)

Getting figures for the third division is quite challenging so I went back just two years, realising that to go further would perhaps be a bridge too far when trying to find all the statistics. Even with the ones below one match did not have the clubs release an attendance figure for it. In those cases a calculated estimate was made. As it was for just one game, it has no real effect on the data.*

For 2017, Toulouse and Rochdale left to go up to the Championship. Incoming were Whitehaven and Workington from the Championship and a new team in Toronto. That took the total of teams up to 16 in 2017 from 15 in 2016.

It's interesting to note how moving up and down affected those club's crowd numbers. Going up, Toulouse attendances were +40% and Rochdale and +66%. The relegation for Whitehaven dropped their attendance average a mere -5% and Workington just -7%.

Without doubt the big talking point for 2017 was the introduction of a newly formed club from Canada. At home they were playing before an audience that largely didn't even know the game existed until the Toronto Wolf Pack turned up. Would the locals embrace this new sport?

An average in excess of 6,600 says yes. The fact that curious onlookers returned for more and got behind their team with vigour was fantastic. The team also played before larger than average crowds in the UK, often the best attendance for the season for the club they visited.

The Wolf Pack helped mightily in taking the League 1 attendance average figure up 56%! However, when they go in 2018, what will be the likely outcome for the average attendance figure? Oldham and Bradford are coming down, the latter will help to compensate for the loss of Toronto, as they bid adieu and head to the Championship above. One other - yet to be decided - will also leave with them, possibly Barrow.

Summary: The League 1 was barely noticed and I must say until 2017, I knew next to nothing about it. Having Toronto in the competition got me and thousands of others aware, and interested in it. I even got to see some games from League 1 and there are some fine clubs and players in that division.

Hopefully the departure of Toronto won't see this part of the game slip back into obscurity. It is mooted that there are more teams to be added from North America in due course and if they take the same route, then more excitement and travel awaits the players and fans from League 1.


2017 2016

Toronto 6,639 Toulouse 1,540

Newcastle 979 Newcastle 1,017

York 887 Barrow 918

Barrow 853 Keighley 655

Keighley 742 Doncaster 623

Whitehaven 664 York 594

Workington 654 Rochdale 528

Doncaster 577 Coventry 486

London Schol 473 North Wales 484

Hunslet 421 Hunslet 454

Coventry 401 London Schol 389

North Wales 377 South Wales 315

South Wales 229 Oxford 184

Gloucester 205 Hemel 176

Oxford 152 Gloucester 150

Hemel 117

Total 105,862 Total 59,579

Avg 882 Avg 567

Please note the data above is for regular round matches only and excludes playoff competitions and finals.

PS. To see the Super League (div 1) or the Championship (div 2), simply click on them.

* If anyone knows the attendance for Oxford v Newcastle 18/06/17, please let me know. Thank you.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

UK Championship Attendances : 2015-17 (By Club)

Below the UK Super League elite division there is the Championship (Division Two). There are twelve sides that compete with each other and the best four get a chance for a place in SL. The possible outcomes are from none to four could go up, but all four would be next to impossible. In 2015, no teams went up but for 2016 and 2017 one was promoted each year.

How many fans turn up for these clubs? Many feel it has been on the decline so I decided to investigate, going back three years. That was plenty of work in itself but I am glad to report I found attendance figures for every game!

First up, to explain the Summer Bash. it's a weekend where all the teams in the Championship come together in Blackpool, Lancashire (my parents had their honeymoon there). The attendance isn't added into the average for the clubs in order not to distort the home ground attendance, which varies greatly as you can see below.

Another point of note is as teams come and go through promotion and relegation, the average can be affected by that. Leigh left in 2017 and Hull KR replaced them. Whitehaven and Workington  also left to be replaced by Toulouse and Rochdale. These changes helped push up the total by 55,000. In 2016, Hunslet and Doncaster were replaced by London and Oldham. The total was down 27,000 due mainly to Bradford's drop in attendance.

In 2018, Hull KR go up and a SL side will replace them, yet to be decided. Oldham and Bradford go down, to be replaced by Toronto and one other side. For attendances, that may end up about even so the total won't be much different, maybe up slightly on renewed interest with the likes of Toronto arriving.

Summary: The Championship is improving in standard, with some very good teams in it. The negative is that some are full time, others part time so only the former have any chance of promotion. If a few Russian oligarchs want to dabble in ownership, the price of admission would be nothing compared to football. They would have some fun too.


2017 2016 2015

Hull KR 7,351 Bradford 4,621 Bradford 5,462

Bradford 4,119 Leigh 3,545 Leigh 3,421

Featherstone 2,457 Featherstone 2,071 Featherstone 2,320

Toulouse 2,154 Halifax 1,986 Halifax 1,880

Halifax 1,695 Dewsbury 1,181 Dewsbury 1,481

Batley 1,150 Batley 1,100 Sheffield 1,254

Dewsbury 1,089 Oldham 877 Doncaster 1,242

Rochdale 878 Swinton 829 Whitehaven 922

Oldham 815 London 746 Batley 918

London 804 Workington 704 Hunslet 868

Swinton 791 Whitehaven 702 Workington 810

Sheffield 626 Sheffield 623 London 698

Summer Bash 16,444 Summer Bash 15,912 Summer Bash 15,671

Total 279,664 Total 225,100 Total 252,081

Avg 2,027 Avg 1,631 Avg 1,827

Please note the data above is for regular round matches only and excludes playoff competitions and finals.

PS. To see the Super League (div 1) or League 1 (div 3), simply click on them.