Super League Chief Executive Nigel Wood has congratulated Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants for their “outstanding” efforts in getting the 2014 First Utility Super League season off to a memorable start on Friday evening.
Huddersfield, the 2013 League Leaders, completed a 24-8 victory over the defending champions in front of a crowd of over 16,000 people at the DW Stadium, a match watched by a bumper audience on Sky Sports.
Early indications suggest that the viewing figures were among the highest for an opening fixture since Super League began, and Wood believes that all points to the new season being the most compelling of all time.
“I would like to congratulate both Wigan and Huddersfield for the outstanding quality of the Rugby League they produced on Friday night,” said Wood. “The sense of anticipation ahead of a season which followed the hugely successful Rugby League World Cup had never been greater and the Warriors and Giants delivered in every way.
“The atmosphere at the DW Stadium on Friday night was terrific and the skills, drama and excitement on show were perfectly captured by the Sky Sports cameras.
“There could not have been a better way to welcome the competition’s new title sponsors, First Utility to the sport: the action really was electric!”
The match was also the first fixture played since the sport agreed a record-breaking new broadcast contract that will extend the partnership with Sky Sports to at least 2021, a period that will see Rugby League embrace exciting new competition structures.
Sky’s innovative thinking was demonstrated with a new approach to video refereeing decisions, which were made in front of camera with viewers able to watch the officials use the latest video technology to rule on referrals and explain the reasoning behind each decision.
“Once again Sky have been able to enhance their sterling coverage of the game and I am sure the video referee feature will be watched by other sports with great interest,” said Wood.
“Just as our partnership with Sky Sports continues to help Rugby League grow as a world class television spectacle, the new broadcast contract provides every Super League club with a level of resource which empowers them to grow their own businesses and, as a direct consequence, the wider game.
“The New TV contract together with the unprecedented levels of commercial income that are now flowing into Super League have put the sport in a very good place, as we saw from the action at Wigan on Friday night.
“Friday’s match is what at Super League should be all about, a high quality athletic contest by two well-coached sides providing compelling entertainment for supporters and TV viewers.”