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Attending the Lions Challenge matches

January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

The official attendance figures for the first match of the Lions Challenge against Russia on Saturday was a paltry 4,495 people, definitely not the type of figures the GLRU would have hoped for. Granted, the attendance would have been a bit higher if not for the wet and cold weather conditions but it is doubtful whether it would have reached 10,000 and one can only hope that attendance will improve as the Lions’ Wooden Spoon Knockouts Preparation Programme progresses.

Considering the Ellis Park attendance figures of the past – 2012 Super Rugby: 23,313, 2012 Currie Cup: 19,520 – one probably can expect the Lions Challenge matches to average about 15,000+ per game, with games the South African franchises still to come and games against Samoa,  the French Barbarians and the stronger French clubs Montpellier and Grenoble to come later in the programme.

However, attendances will obviously be affected by the teams especially the SA franchises send to play the Lions. If they use the matches purely as practice matches to give their fringe players a run Ellis Park will be lucky to see 10,000 spectators per game.

People who expect the Lions to fill Ellis Park (60,000+), or to even get around 30k spectators to the games, for the Lions Challenge matches are living in a dream world. The fact is that the average South African rugby supporter do not attend rugby matches, he watches it on TV and past records prove that.

2012 Super Rugby:

During the 2012 Super Rugby competition only the Stormers and the Bulls averaged more than 30,000 spectators per home game.

Stormers: 41,919 (excluding the semi final)
Bulls: 33,562
Sharks: 24,271
Lions: 23,313
Cheetahs: 19,244

Currie Cup:

No team averaged home game attendances of near 30k during either the 2011 or the 2012 Currie Cup seasons with only the Sharks exceeding 20k in 2012.

Sharks: 21,458 (excluding semi final and final)
FS Cheetahs: 17,262
Golden Lions: 17,035 (excluding the semi final)
Western Province: 16,859
Blue Bulls: 14,199
Griquas: 9,312

Sharks: 23,025 (excluding semi final)
Golden Lions: 20274 (excluding the semi final and final)
Blue Bulls: 19,964
Western Province: 18,236
FS Cheetahs: 15,450
Griquas: 9,533

(Figures compiled from Wikipedia)


Compare this to American football’s average home game attendances:

2012: University of Michigan in Ann Arbor: 112,252 (102.1%) City population: 760,000
2012: Dallas Cowboys: 88,531 (110.7%)

8 responses to Attending the Lions Challenge matches

  1. The issue I heard from many people regarding attending a game Ellis Park is the parking and generally a not so great area – also the traffic to get close to the stadium and especially when leaving isn’t really something you want to experience on your spare time. I’ve always enjoyed coming to Ellis Park, but I have to say that if you compare attending a game at Loftus it’s a massive difference in so many ways. Lots of good places for braaing and generally good atmosphere without drug-dealers and hobos all over – you don’t need to walk to the stadium jumping over gutters filled with litter and sh..t. And all this contributes to the overall experience, which GLRU might want to think about as well.

    Anyway, I’ll be going to the game at Orlando to support the Bulls in the game, but Lions in their quest to make this Lions Challenge count so they will kick the EP ass in the relegation game.

  2. When was the Lions-Cheetahs fixture changed from 23 Jan (as per your article on 6 Jan) to 26 Jan? I had great difficulty getting confirmation of dates for the trip across the Jukskei to view the “new” Lions and their opponents play. Always game for a good match-up especially as I am not even a Lions supporter!! Show them Lions

    • The original announcement was for the 23rd but over the weekend I saw all the media reports talking of the 26th. The 26th is also confirmed on the Lions web site at Note that the lick-off is at 17h00.

  3. I know Naka said he was going to use the Lions and Bulls games to get his players and combinations to gel, so expect a lot of the newcomers and replacements during the games. I will still attend this one though as it is a 17:00 start which means arriving there in daylight which is always a bonus.

    • Definitely will be a “practice” match. Both Naka and Ackers are saying that they will give new players a chance according to Rugby365:

      Naka: “It will be a long way from our strongest XV that will face the Lions.”

      Among the other big names that will be absent on Saturday are forwards like Boks Coenie Oosthuizen and Heinrich Brussow, along with Andries Ferreira, Martin Muller, Phillip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne.

      Backs who will be kept on ice include Bok Johan Goosen, new recruit Johan Sadie, utility Willie Roux and Sevens Bok Rayno Benjamin.

      This makes a result not only difficult to predict but also irrelevant, unless of course the Lions lose against a severely weakened Cheetahs side :( .

      • Interesting.

        Toyota Cheetahs en Leeus smee opnuut bande

        Die Vrystaat- en die Leeus rugby unies het opnuut bande gesmee en op onderlinge samewerking ooreengekom.

        Tydens ‘n gesprek tussen mnr. Lindsay Mould, President van die Vrystaatse Rugby-unie, mnr. Harold Verster, Besturende Direkteur van die Vrystaat Toyota Cheetahs (Edms.) Bpk. en mnr. Kevin de Klerk, President van die Leeus in Johannesburg is moontlike ongelukkighede en onsekerhede en ook toekomstige samewerking bespreek.

        • Yes I saw that and I am in the process of deciding whether to blog about it or not, good to see grown men handle things, even better to see them not thinking about the CATS as a possibility, which I think started this whole thing.

      • Interesting to note that Juan Smith is back in training. Would be a big boost if he can play this season for the Cheetahs!

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