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NRL promises biggest year yet

05/03/2003 10:15:25 PM Comments (0)

National Rugby League boss David Gallop has promised the code was in for its biggest year ever.

The chief executive said the pre-season had attracted more than 200,000 people ahead of the season opener on March 14 when premiers the Sydney Roosters take on Parramatta.

"We began with 50,000 people at the World Sevens and another 150,000 at trial matches stretching from regional Victoria to far North Queensland," Gallop said at the NRL's season launch in Sydney on Wednesday night.

"Rugby league is an important part of people's lives and it finished 2002 on a tremendous high.

"I think the game showed it has learnt to deal with challenges that are inevitable from time to time and that it can do so without detracting from what lies at the heart and soul of the game."

Despite the Bulldogs salary cap scandal last year, Gallop said huge TV ratings figures last season and game day crowds showed support was strong.

"Our game showcases an incredible array of skills; it consistently provides a level of excitment that I believe is unmatched," he said.

"Rating and attendance figures over the past year show the vast majority of fans and television viewers in NSW and Queensland feel the same way; just as do the growing numbers in New Zealand and Melbourne (where over 400,000 tuned into last year's grand final."

He also said the game would continue to go back to its roots.

"This year we have the Broncos return to a brand new Lang Park and the Dragons back playing games at Jubilee Oval," he said.

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