You will need to pay for it – and buy a diary – but you can now watch Super League, NRL and League 1 matches on TV. There was no coverage 30 years ago
By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network
We love a moan in rugby league. It’s our factory setting. However, consider this. This week I found an old newspaper cutting from 30 years ago with a report of perennial champions Wigan beating Leeds a few days before their now-famous World Club Challenge win over Manly. Nearly 14,000 were at Central Park to see the game’s biggest two clubs meet. The other six top flight games that afternoon attracted an aggregate attendance of fewer than 25,000 people.
More than 7,000 saw Halifax beat St Helens at Thrum Hall – a reminder of Halifax’s not-so-distant strength – but there were only 4,000 at Warrington. Hunslet were the minnows of the Stone Bitter Championship then: a mere 2,601 rattled around Elland Road for their local clash with Cas. But that was not the smallest gate of the weekend: Bradford, who we all consider fallen giants of our game, hammered Swinton in front of just 2,510 at Odsal. This was early October, when the season was new, hopes were fresh and the weather mild. The average top flight attendance then was under 5,000. Thirty years later, Super League gates average just under 9,000.
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