David Gallop's responded with his biased perspective.
NRL crowds break two million
Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 3:27 PM
NRL Chief Executive David Gallop has praised the commitment of fans as the attendance mark for the Telstra Premiership smashed through the two million mark last night despite another downpour.
The clash between Parramatta and Newcastle took the total crowd number for the 2007 Telstra Premiership to 2,000,527, with the average crowd figures up 2.06 per cent on last year as fans and clubs brace for the run to the finals.
The increase in attendances comes despite figures from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology revealing the month of June was one of the wettest on the east coast in decades.
“Our fans should be congratulated,” Mr Gallop said.
“They have been braving torrential rain to come out and support their teams, the number of them out there in ponchos and rain jackets has been a sight to see, and I think that’s a great reflection of the excitement our competition is generating.
“Now that the representative season is over the focus is solely on the Telstra Premiership and we expect those numbers to grow even further.
“There are just eight rounds left and every match is going to have an impact on the make-up of the top eight. This Sunday is a great example with all three matches having a significant bearing on the finals race.”
Fans and viewers are responding in growing numbers to what is one of the closest competitions in history.
The average attendance for Telstra Premiership matches this season is 15,629, up 2.06 per cent on 2006 (15,313).
Rugby League continues to be a ratings winner on free to air television with Channel Nine, highlighted by a 24 per cent rise in the average audience in the Brisbane market and the code remaining the dominant force in the Sydney market.
On subscription television, Fox Sports’ live matches across the round have an average audience of 247,000 in 2007, up 11 per cent from the same time last year.
NRL matches have been the highest rating shows on subscription television every Saturday and Monday this season, while 10 matches have had an average audience in excess of 300,000 this season. Last year there were six for the season.
The final eight rounds will only add to the intrigue with a succession of marquee match-ups and season-defining clashes.
South Sydney are one club that know all about the close nature of the competition, having lost six games by seven points or less this season to be one win outside the top eight.
“There are so many teams in contention for the eight, it’s got to be exciting for the fans,” coach Jason Taylor said.
“We’re right in the mix along with a lot of other teams. What happens over the next five or six weeks is absolutely vital.”
It is a view shared by Sharks coach Ricky Stuart, whose club has lost seven games by four points or less this season to also sit one win outside the top eight.
“We’re disappointed not to have won some of those close games but playing matches like that, under a lot of pressure, will definitely be good preparation for finals football if we can get there,” Stuart said.
“But if we want to be in the finals, we need to start winning, starting with this week.”