Rugby League's Rep Round A Resounding Success

There's no doubt that State Of Origin is a formidable foe when it comes to pure viewing figures, with 83,000 packing into the stands to watch game 2 of one of Rugby League's fiercest and most physical rivalries. So when the NRL refused to release big name stars for the upcoming test in Denver, it looked like all eyes would firmly be set on origin once more.

Of course England vs New Zealand wasn't the only fixture in the calendar over the Origin break, there was also the double header in Campbelltown that saw Fiji take on PNG and Samoa take on Tonga. The Kumuls coming up with a very convincing win against a near identical squad to the one that made it to the Semi-final of the World Cup just 7 months prior.

Tonga put in a brilliant showing to see off Samoa, a superb battle between two ever-improving nations. Both line-ups littered with some massive Polynesian talents that feature week in, week out for their respective NRL sides. It's always great to see this fixture for the displays of national pride on show too, Sipi Tau vs Siva Tau in a display of respect for their culture and heritage.
Then moving onto the game that was labelled "doomed from the start" by so many, England vs New Zealand. I too was apprehensive about the decision to move an already heavily opposed fixture to very unfamiliar territory, but after seeing 20,000 fans turn out to see two Rugby League giants fight it out in tough conditions, I am very optimistic for the future of Rugby League in the US. It's unclear how many fans in attendance were local residents, in comparison to Sports Tourists and Ex-Pats but either way, the game was entertaining and will no doubt have gained some notoriety State Side.

This means that this international test match pulled in almost as many active spectators through the gates as; England's World Cup opener against Australia in Melbourne (22,724), Australia and Fiji's Semi-final clash in Brisbane (22,073) and more than Samoa and Tonga's fixture in Waikato (18,156). All in all only 6 World Cup games had more spectators than the Denver test (19,320), 5 of which were the Semi-finals, Final and Quarter-finals.

So overall, I applaud the RFL for stepping out of their comfort zone despite stiff opposition from a larger and better backed competition, we are all very quick to criticise the decisions of the RFL as a whole and proclaim that Rugby League is a "dying sport" so lets instead celebrate the success that was the Denver Test, well done to all involved in masterminding this and to all that played and watched.


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