NRL crowds – well done!

If everyone could please refrain from talking about my Expert Tips for Round 2, that would be much appreciated. The shame of my current score has been haunting me for most of the weekend.

Despite my abysmal tips, I did get to enjoy some of the magnificent football which was played over the weekend. For me, there were 2 games which stood out – the Parramatta Eels v Canterbury Bulldogs on Friday night and the South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters on Sunday afternoon.

These games had it all – injury, intrigue, massive hits, redemption and plenty of points.

What these games also had, were big crowds. Bravo, NRL fans!

I have made it no secret in the past that I love suburban grounds, particularly my team’s home ground – Pirtek Stadium. When the stadium is near its 20,500 capacity, the atmosphere is electric: it is our fortress Parramatta.

As many of you know, over the past couple of seasons, Parramatta have had an arrangement with ANZ Stadium. This arrangement ends at the end of this season and has involved Parramatta moving up to four games per season away from Pirtek Stadium each year.

For the past few seasons, this arrangement has done nothing but left a bad taste in my mouth. It is not only Parramatta’s woeful record which has made me dislike ANZ Stadium but also because whenever Parramatta play the Bulldogs or the Rabbitohs, we are playing at a stadium which is the home ground of our opposition, thus we give away our home ground advantage.

However, from what I saw this weekend, the NRL and the various clubs are all beginning to understand how to use ANZ Stadium more effectively.

The only time ANZ Stadium absolutely erupts is when it is at capacity and that usually comes in September, when finals football is on or when the big games are on.

The game on Friday night between the Bulldogs and the Eels had a crowd of 28,876 and the crowd for the game between the Rabbitohs and the Roosters was 27,289.

Now, I think that these crowds can get better. They are solid crowds, but hopefully as the season progresses, these crowds will lift. I can understand lower numbers for a Friday night game, but not in regard to the Roosters v Rabbitohs game which was held on Sunday afternoon. For a game of this calibre, between 2 teams that are both Premiership contenders for 2015, the crowd should have been upwards of 35,000.

However, the NRL and the Clubs got it right this weekend – these are the sorts of games which should be played at ANZ Stadium. Forget games like the Bulldogs v Titans or Parramatta v Cowboys – these games are not enough of a draw card for ANZ Stadium to shine.

ANZ Stadium needs to be used strategically – the Clubs playing need to be considered as does the type of crowd they can draw. In circumstances where, like on Friday night, the crowd has well exceeded that which would fit at Parramatta Stadium it seems worthwhile to move to ANZ Stadium.

For games between traditional rivals, like the Bulldogs and Eels, it makes even more sense to move the game to ANZ Stadium in order to create the atmosphere that such games deserve.

The timeslot also need to be considered. Weekend games are of course, more family friendly and more likely to draw a crowd. Monday night is a battle at best and will more likely, make ANZ Stadium feel like a graveyard.

In the coming weeks, Parramatta will also face the Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday. This is another game which has the potential to be massive. The time slot is family friendly, over an Easter long weekend and the Tigers and Eels are two of Sydney’s favourite clubs. I want to see ANZ Stadium with 40,000 people inside.

ANZ Stadium is a wonderful stadium in the correct circumstances.

It’s time that we started using our Stadiums strategically and work together with all the Clubs so that NRL crowds continue to grow in 2015.

Love,

Ladies who League