History was made as the overall attendance record for a single round in the BKT United Rugby Championship was broken in Round 11 with over 123,000 fans packing into stadiums across both hemispheres.
The total of 123,307 surpassed the previous record of 121,177 as sell-out crowds and season-high attendances were reported in Belfast, Cardiff, Dublin, Durban, Edinburgh and Parma.
Both the 1872 Cup game between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors in Scotland and the Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls fixture drew in crowds of 25,000 while games in Dublin (17,560), Belfast (16,672) and Cape Town (15,001) all drew attendances of over 15,000.
It caps an impressive two-week period for the BKT United Rugby Championship with nearly a quarter of a million fans attending the Christmas and New Year derby games. Of those 16 fixtures, there were three sell-outs and a total of nine season-high attendances.
Underscoring the impressive achievement, Martin Anayi, CEO, United Rugby Championship said: “To break the overall attendance record for a single round in the league’s history is yet another boost for the BKT United Rugby Championship. This comes just a week after the Christmas attendance was broken and again shows the superb work our clubs are doing to grow the game.
“To put this achievement in context, the previous record included a 62,000 crowd from Judgement Day in Cardiff in 2018, so to break it without hosting a major double-header is fantastic. There was barely a spare seat in Ireland, the Cardiff Arms Park in Wales was full, Edinburgh did a terrific job to get so many into BT Murrayfield for the 1872 Cup game while Zebre also had their biggest crowd of the season.
“In South Africa, the concept of playing over Christmas and New Year was very new to their market but fans have embraced ‘summer rugby’ with almost 100,000 attending over two weekends. Right now fans will have lots of demands on how they spend their money and to see so many choosing to buy tickets to support their teams in the BKT URC is humbling.”
The Vodacom Bulls were part of a two-weekend 55000+ spectacle during round 10 and 12, respectively. Stefan van der Merwe, Chief Commercial Officer, Vodacom Bulls applauded the herd for its contributions towards this historic milestone.
“We have an incredible and loyal fanbase at the Vodacom Bulls, whose dedication to supporting this brand is unwavering. We have been extremely fortunate to see them stand behind us when we began our journey in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship last season and this year, they have taken their support a step further; adding colour, love and incredible energy from the stands during the festive season,”
“We have seen now, that rugby can be that sport that entertains families and forms perfect part of all of our festive memories. This record is not only for our clubs but it is for every South African who spent money and time to be with us for more than 80 minutes over round 10 and 11. As we enter 2023, we hope to break more records in the coming festive season.”
R10 and R11 BKT URC Attendances
30,003 DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls (R10)
25,813 Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls (R11)
25,600 Munster v Leinster (R10)
25,137 Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors (R11)
24,721 Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions (R10)
17,560 Leinster v Connacht (R11)
16,672 Ulster v Munster (R11)
15,001 DHL Stormers v Emirates Lions (R11)
12,125 Cardiff Rugby v Ospreys (R11)
11,480 Ospreys v Scarlets (R10)
8,566 Scarlets v Dragons RFC (R11)
8,582 Dragons RFC v Cardiff Rugby (R10)
7,338 Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh (R10)
6,041 Connacht v Ulster (R10)
3,683 Benetton v Zebre Parma (R10)
2,433 Zebre Parma v Benetton (R11)
Across Round 10 and 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship close to a quarter of a million fans attended 16 games where the average attendance was 12,500. South Africa had the highest attendance by country with 95,538 fans attending the four derby matches in Cape Town and Durban.
This was followed by 65,873 in Ireland with one game apiece played in Belfast, Dublin, Galway and Limerick while in Wales there were two sell-outs and a season high attendance (Ospreys) across Cardiff, Llanelli, Newport and Swansea among the 40,753 attendees.
Top Three League Attendances for a Single Round
123,307 R11 Dec 30-Jan 1, 2022/23
121,117 R21 Apr 28, 2018
117,448 R10 Dec 23-26, 2022