After sealing the series victory over New Zealand by winning the first two tests in Hull and Liverpool, many would have been forgiven for thinking that the attendance for this Sunday’s final encounter between England and the Kiwis at Elland Road would suffer due to nothing riding on the game – but no.
Instead, the official England Rugby League twitter feed confirmed that further tickets have been put on sale in the East Stand Upper section of the Leeds United stadium, a move which could see the third test draw a record attendance. Last weekend’s 20-14 victory over the Kiwis drew a crowd of 26,234 to Anfield, the second best number for a test outside of London against New Zealand since 1951. Indeed, with the highest figure being 27,884 in 1998 in Bolton, this Sunday’s clash at Elland Road has already sold enough advance tickets to confirm that the match will replace that date in Bolton as the best attended international against the Kiwis outside of the capital.
This comes at a time when international rugby league is at something of a crossroads and, in the opinion of RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer, this test series has showed that there is serious interest in the game at this level. “The first two Tests have been a reminder of the value and appeal of international rugby league,” he told the media following the announcement of the opening of the East Stand Upper. “Millions of people have seen our England team earn two wins against the Kiwis and now we’re delighted that more people want to see the third Test in the flesh,” he added.