Super League to go from strength to strength
8th February 2011
Super League Chairman Richard Lewis today hailed the growing appeal of Rugby League’s elite competition and predicted that the 2011 Engage Super League season will be an all-time classic.
Speaking at the official launch of the 2011 season at Old Trafford, Lewis pointed to the bumper attendances in last year’s Engage Super League play-offs, culminating in a capacity crowd for the 2010 Grand Final, and the huge demands for tickets for Magic Weekend as proof of the competition’s health and popularity.
Super League has been sponsored by Engage Mutual Assurance since 2006 and kicks-off with Magic Weekend at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium this weekend, Saturday February 12 and Sunday February 13.
“There isn’t a better way to start the season than hosting seven matches under the closed roof of Cardiff’s magical Millennium Stadium,” said RFL Chairman Richard Lewis.
“Wigan Warriors will be looking to defend their Engage Super League title in 2011, their first title since 1998. While Wigan enjoyed a successful year on the pitch in 2010, the sport of Rugby League enjoyed a successful year off it as well.
“At a time when most major sports are recording falling attendances, Super League attendances did not falter last season and it was a hugely successful year for our major events, with sell out crowds attending both the Engage Super League Grand Final and the Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
“We also witnessed a 40 per cent increase in attendances across the board during the Engage Super League play-offs – a trend we hope to see continue in 2011 as the sport continues to grow.”
Millennium Magic sees all 14 Engage Super League clubs in action over both days with four games on Saturday - including a repeat of the 2010 Grand Final between defending champions Wigan Warriors and arch-rivals St Helens - and three games on Sunday , the last a climactic clash between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers.
All 14 Engage Super League clubs will be determined to prove their worth in the quest for silverware on the pitch this season, but 2011 is also an important year for clubs off the pitch, with a new round of Super League licences set to be awarded in July.
The RFL will announce the identity of the successful Championship club on March 31 and the remaining 13 licences in late July.
“This year is an important year for all the clubs who have applied for three-year Super League licences from the start of 2010,” said Lewis.“The licence review has been ongoing for some time and the process has been challenging for all the clubs, but the beauty of the system is that it creates equal opportunities for all and encourages development.
“It gives me great satisfaction to know that the sport will have two new stadiums in the next two years with St Helens and Salford City both moving to state-of-the-art facilities.
“Licensing is no doubt high on the agenda for all involved within the sport but we also have other important developments from a commercial and media perspective in 2011.
“I will be leading our negotiations with broadcasters as we aim to improve our tender agreement for the three years from 2012. Rugby League’s appeal as a television spectacle shows no sign of diminishing and viewing figures for Super League games in 2010 were again higher than those witnessed by the Aviva Premiership.
“In addition to a strong radio and TV presence, we will continue to fight for our market share of national media coverage. We have seen that when covered in the right way, Rugby League has the power to boost circulation figures in an industry that is witnessing falling circulation figures across the board.
“With so much at stake on and off the field of play this season, the 2011 Engage Super League campaign looks set to be another classic and I look forward to watching it unfold across all the media platforms.”
Ticket sales for Millennium Magic have been strong throughout 2011 and with less than a week to go are running at 40 per cent higher than they were for Magic Weekend 2010.
2011 Millennium Magic fixtures:
Saturday February 12
Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves (1.00)
Catalan Dragons v Harlequins RL (3.00)
Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (5.00)
St Helens v Wigan Warriors (7.00)
Sunday February 13
Crusaders v Salford City Reds (12.00)
Bradford Bulls v Leeds Rhinos (2.00)
Hull FC v Hull Kingston Rovers (4.00)