NZ Rugby World
FANS LOVED IT
There is no more compelling
statistic to emerge from Super Rugby than the attendance numbers that came out of Auckland.
The Blues sold a total of almost 150,000, tickets across four games which meant their average attendance was 37,000. That was almost double the average attendance in 2019.
That total included two sell-outs – for the opening game against the Hurricanes and for the final game against the Crusaders, which of course was cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and change in alert levels.
Clearly, the competition struck a chord with fans and while the Blues posted the most significant jump in attendances from last year, crowds were up across the country.
The average attendance after the first two rounds was 26,000, a massive leap on 2019 where the total number of people who came to Super Rugby games in New Zealand was 450,000.
There were 39 regular season matches played in New Zealand last season, which would mean the average crowd was about 11,500.
To some extent the surge in popularity could be attributed to scarcity, novelty and relief. After almost eight weeks of hard lockdown, New Zealanders celebrated their freedom by supporting their local rugby sides.
While we had freedom to gather in mass numbers and live normally most of the rest of the world was still locked down.
Yet while that may have driven the boom early numbers, the fact that the final game of the season was also sold out suggests it was the quality of the rugby and the intrigue created by the format that kept everyone coming back.
“All five franchises were facing some pretty tough times in the midst of Covid-19,” Blues chief excutive Andrew Hore said. “I’m just thankful people have got so much in behind it. We’ve got to be genuinely thankful people have turned up because of what that’s done.
“If you look at the restaurants and bars around the place, the benefits to the stadium itself and all the staff and services within, it’s not just about the players, there’s a wider economic eco-system in this and it’s been really good. I’m quite humbled by it.”
Viewership also saw an incredible boom with figures showing a 65 per cent lift on where they had been pre-covid.
And it wasn't just in New Zealand either. There were times when the UK reported peak audience in excess of 100,000 people which was previously unheard of.