Gallop smiling after bumper trial crowds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gallop smiling after bumper trial crowds

By David Beniuk 28/02/2010 09:05:31 PM Comments (0)

NRL boss David Gallop is encouraged by the weekend's bumper crowds at trial matches in Sydney, Auckland, Darwin and regional NSW.

While rival codes blame the strain on the entertainment dollar after the global financial crisis for dwindling fan numbers, rugby league could boast a record 27,221 at ANZ Stadium for the Charity Shield, more than 18,000 at a double header in Gosford and an astounding 17,000 for the Warriors-Manly trial in Auckland.

In Darwin, nearly 10,000 turned up for North Queensland's clash with Gold Coast and there were more than 6,000 at the Newcastle-Penrith trial in Port Macquarie and 8,000 for the Canterbury-Canberra clash in Dubbo.

The season proper is still two weeks away.

"It was great to be part of the Charity Shield crowd and celebrate their (St George Illawarra and South Sydney's) dead heat for the race to 10,000 members but across the weekend the crowds were really encouraging," Gallop told AAP.

"People in the street are talking about the season and how excited they are which is very pleasing.

"We had a year last year where people predicted doom and gloom and we actually bucked a trend in other sports and indeed what was predicted for our own sport.

"I think the bottom line is it's going to be closer than ever and that's going to encourage fans of all teams to get out in the first few weeks and be part of it."

Club memberships are one driving force as clubs prepare to rely less on leagues club grants and the Dragons and Rabbitohs each collected $50,000 from the NRL for reaching the 10,000-mark last week.

Parramatta chief executive Paul Osborne is aiming even higher.

"We're at eight-and-a-half thousand, ticketed we're over six which is just phenomenal really so I'm hoping to get 20,000 members by the end of this year," he told AAP at a Parramatta fan day which attracted several thousand fans.

"We're really going to pump it up, it's our future.

"We're preparing for life after poker machine money, it doesn't faze me really."

Gallop said another prize from the NRL for clubs reaching the next mark was not out of the question.

"We haven't talked about another prize but it's certainly a possibility and membership's now an integral part of what our clubs are trying to do," he said.

Tickets for the opening rounds of the NRL season go on sale on Monday.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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