Scandal can't keep crowds from NRL games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Scandal can't keep crowds from NRL games

By Todd Balym 17/05/2009 09:03:55 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league proved yet again that scandal cannot keep the game down.

After one of the worst weeks in the game's history, with the NRL reeling from lurid headlines and outrage over sex scandals, 144,086 football fans flocked to seven games in the heritage round.

The average attendance of 20,583 in round 10 was more than 3000 up on the average so far this year.

The support was aided by some great match ups and punctuated by a bumper crowd of 29,970 attending Sunday's nostalgic game between Wests Tigers and South Sydney at the game's spiritual home, the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The controversy and headlines weren't limited to the game's off-field problems either, with several heart-stopping games decided in the final minute and one with a crucial no-try decision that has left the game divided.

NRL chief executive David Gallop said he was pleased with the turn out by fans across Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland.

"It's obviously pleasing to see so many people going to the footy," said Gallop.

"It is a testament to the skill of our players and the closeness of the competition. The game is loved by a lot of people.

"It's been a week of drama on and off the field."

Gallop accepted the game faced "challenges" in retaining fan support in the face of bad publicity, but said he had full confidence the NRL could continue to improve crowd figures in the future as they avoid a downturn in the harsh economic climate.

"The goal is just to grow across the board every year," he said.

"A lot of people predicted doom and gloom because of the economic climate but people have turned out so far this year and I think it's because the competition is so even and fans of the teams know that their team is in with a chance every game."

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