Fans stay away … again
SUPERSTARS, sunshine and empty seats.
The NRL’s biggest names and perfect weather failed to fill Sydney’s best stadium with the latest addition to rugby league given a lukewarm welcome.
Following a Friday failure when Bankwest Stadium recorded its lowest rugby league crowd, the World Cup 9s again failed to win over Western Sydney. With the NRL delivering Kalyn Ponga, Jason Taumalolo and Josh Addo-Carr for what they promised would be a twoday party, only 15,684 turned out to watch the latest incarnation of the short form.
“I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd,’’ said Australian playmaker Ben Hunt. “It is the first tournament of its type and there hasn’t been a lot of advertisement and promotion. I think there has only been a couple of weeks of advertising because of the grand final.’’
The timing of the tournament should be scrutinised. While all previous short-format events have been held in the pre-season — appetisers for footy starved fans — the NRL decided to schedule the first 9s in Australia two weeks after the grand final.
IRL boss Nigel Wood revealed that America and the Middle East are in contention to host the next World Cup 9s in 2023.
“This is the first of a two-stage agreement and we will host it again in 2023,” he said. “I think it is capable of more. It is a great opportunity to take the sport to more countries and North America, the Middle East and Europe are all possibilities.”
The New Zealand women’s team celebrate their final win last night.