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Opinion

Which club really gets the NRL's best home crowds?

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Roar Rookie
31st March, 2020
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1637 Reads

Doesn’t 2019 feel like so long ago? In fact, doesn’t the end of Round 2 of the NRL season feel like an eternity ago?

Played in empty stadiums, these games made me wonder who actually had the best and worst crowds of last season?

Are Roosters fans as stay-at-home as some make them out to be? Do the numbers prove or disprove Novocastrians’ reputation for loyalty? Did Gold Coast crowd numbers match their on-field performances?

Well, ask no more! After crunching 192 regular-season games’ worth of figures, I’ve compiled a ladder that ranks every team’s 2019 average home attendance from highest to lowest.

1. Broncos: 29,516
2. Knights: 19,053
3. Eels: 18,396
4. Storm: 18,230
5. Roosters: 16,844
6. Warriors: 15,606
7. Rabbitohs: 15,601
8. Tigers: 15,345
9. Raiders: 14,864
10. Sea Eagles: 13,777
11. Cowboys: 13,658
12. Bulldogs: 12,861
13. Panthers: 12,482
14. Sharks: 12,224
15. Titans: 11,587
16. Dragons: 9813

Brisbane Broncos fans.

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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It’s no surprise that the Broncos are well on top, as the sole team in the league heartland of Brisbane, while fellow one-city teams the Knights and Storm also find themselves in the top four.

The opening of Bankwest Stadium saw a surge in Parramatta crowd figures, placing them at an enviable third.

As for those knocking the Roosters for poor attendance, sure their annual Anzac Day clash with the Dragons boosts their numbers but they deserve a bit less flak with the fifth-best crowds in the comp.

The Bulldogs, Panthers and Sharks don’t impress with averages of under 13,000.

If you look to the bottom however, it’s not the cellar-dwelling Titans in dead last, but St George Illawarra.

Sure, they had a poor season, but an average home crowd of four figures? Disappointing.

NRL fan in empty stadium.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

But what about Magic Round? The average attendance was a solid 30,906 – so the eight teams with ‘home’ games had their figures boosted handily.

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Sure it’s just one match, but take away Magic Round from those eight teams and the ladder actually changes noticeably.

1. Brisbane: 29,516
2. Knights: 19,053
3. Eels: 18,396
4. Storm: 16,104
5. Roosters: 15,677
6. Raiders: 14,864
7. Rabbitohs: 13,877
8. Warriors: 13,831
9. Cowboys: 13,658
10. Tigers: 13,547
11. Bulldogs: 12,880
12. Panthers: 12,482
13. Sharks: 12,224
14. Sea Eagles: 11,267
15. Titans: 11,085
16. Dragons: 9813

The biggest drop here is from Manly, who plummet to 14th with a stark decrease of 2510. Why? Their ‘home’ game against Brisbane had a generous crowd of 41,388.

The Storm, Warriors and Tigers also see average dips of about 2000, while the Raiders rise up to sixth – reflective of their strong season.

Some purists may also argue that an average attendance should only be measured by their traditional home ground. Except for the nomadic Dragons and Tigers, all teams played at a ‘primary’ home ground for at least nine of their 12 home games.

Excluding regional trips to the likes of Mudgee, Adelaide, Darwin and Tamworth, I’ve made a ladder that measures attendances based on primary home grounds.

So here it is, perhaps the most accurate home attendance ladder:

1. Brisbane, all 12 games at Suncorp Stadium: 29,516
2. Eels, nine at Bankwest Stadium: 21,202
3. Knights, 12 at McDonald Jones Stadium: 19,053
4. Storm, 11 at AAMI Park: 16,104
5. Roosters, nine at the SCG: 15,720
6. Raiders, 11 at GIO Stadium: 15,298
7. Tigers, ten at Bankwest, Campbelltown and Leichhardt Oval: 13,922
8. Warriors, ten at Mt Smart Stadium: 13,785
9. Cowboys, 12 at 1300 SMILES Stadium: 13,658
10. Rabbitohs, ten at ANZ Stadium: 13,311
11. Bulldogs, nine at ANZ Stadium: 13,165
12. Panthers, 11 at Panthers Stadium: 12,619
13. Sharks, 12 at Pointsbet Stadium: 12,224
14. Sea Eagles, 10 at Lottoland: 11,216
15. Titans, 11 at Cbus Super Stadium: 11,085
16. Dragons, six at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium: 10,557

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Bankwest Stadium

Bankwest Stadium (Image: Supplied)

The most impressive increase here is from the Eels, who jump to second with an impressive 21,000-plus average at Bankwest. Overall however, Sydney clubs drag the chain, making up for six of the bottom eight teams.

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The overall average attendance from last season (not including finals) was 15,616. As for games played in Sydney versus out of Sydney?

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Average attendance of games played in Sydney: 13,637
Average attendance of games played outside of Sydney: 16,285

It demonstrates that teams outside the league ‘capital’ are doing well, while a city of over 5.5 million should lift their game.