Super League: More London and south east games targeted in 2016

Wembley during the 2015 Challenge Cup final
The 2015 Challenge Cup final at Wembley attracted 80,140 spectators

Super League general manager Blake Solly says he wants more rugby league games in London and the south east.

The Challenge Cup final traditionally takes place at Wembley and last year Wigan played against Catalans at Millwall Football Club's The Den.

"We've realised that we've got some great showpieces to take to London," Solly told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"We know there's a market in London and the south east for big rugby league events but we've got to serve them up."

As well as the Four Nations tournament taking place in England and Scotland this year, Solly says more games will be played in London and the south east from 2016 onwards.

"We've targeted taking three good rugby league events to London and the south east every year for the next three years," he added.

"Next year we will have the Challenge Cup final and we'll have a Four Nations game with England in it down there."

Looking to the future

Wembley before the 2015 Challenge Cup final
Leeds Rhinos beat Hull KR 50-0 in the 2015 Challenge Cup final

Wigan's match at The Den was hailed as a success, but it is not the first time that rugby league matches have taken place away from home.

The Magic Weekend, where an entire round of Super League is played at one stadium, takes place over a single weekend - and Solly is supportive of clubs who want to branch out further.

"Wigan taking their domestic game against Catalans was a big move so we want to support them if they go down there again next year," he said.

"Super League and the Championship are in great shape and everyone is already looking forward to the Four Nations.

"In 2017 there's a World Cup in Australia. We're going to have the Challenge Cup at Wembley and hopefully two Super League games and convince another two Super League teams it's worth going to London, both financially and from a growth point of view."

Expanding closer to home

London and the south east is not the only target for some rugby league clubs, with Warrington Wolves chief executive Roger Draper suggesting the club are looking at targeting a market closer to home.

"We've got a hardcore following in the town, but what we want to do is reach out to other people who haven't been introduced in the wider areas of Chester and Cheshire," he said.

"Most people who come to the games are hooked, we know we have a great product but it's getting them there in the first place."

Draper believes that, in order to get new fans into the Halliwell Jones Stadium, the club need to be more creative when it comes to marketing.

"We've got to be smarter in the way we attract and market the game to newcomers. We've definitely got one of the greatest sports, it's just getting the people into the stadium.

"We believe there's still a place for local media. You've got to cover all your bases and if you went down the social media route, I don't think you would hit all your target areas. It's getting widespread coverage across as many media channels as possible."

2015: A platform for future success

Warrington Wolves
In 2015, Warrington Wolves reached their fourth consecutive Challenge Cup semi-final

With the 2015 Challenge Cup final attracting the biggest rugby league attendance at Wembley for five years, Solly believes that the past year can help the sport in 2016.

"We had a wonderful year where every week there was a game that mattered and was extremely exciting," he added.

"Leeds winning the treble was a great story. The fact they won the League Leader's Shield in the last second of regular time was amazing.

"We had a good year - most rugby league fans are back supporting their sport and supporting their clubs. It sets us up for a great platform in 2016 to get more and more people interested in rugby league."

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