United Rugby Championship: History-making round of action as new attendance record is set

Jared Wright
Round 11 of the United Rugby Championship set a new record overall attendance, with 123 000 fans packing into stadiums. The 2018 record of 121 177 was beaten this past weekend as 123 307 fans witnessed URC action live across both hemispheres.

Round 11 of the United Rugby Championship (URC) set a new record overall attendance, with over 123,000 fans packing into stadiums.

The 2018 record of 121,177 was beaten this past weekend as 123,307 fans witnessed URC action live across both hemispheres.

Breaking down the numbers

The Sharks derby against the Bulls and the 1872 Cup clash between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors drew in the biggest crowds, with 25,000 supporters packing into Kings Park and Murrayfield, respectively.

While Durban and Edinburgh posted season-high attendances, the same was true for Belfast, Cardiff, Dublin and Parma, as supporters flocked to see their stars in action in the derby matches.

17,560 fans saw Leinster defeat Connacht, 16,672 witnessed a gruelling encounter between Ulster and Munster in Belfast, while 15,001 Capetonians watched the Stormers trounce the Lions.

The festive season fixtures proved wildly popular as nearly a quarter of a million fans attended derby games over Christmas and New Year. The 16 matches produced three sell-outs and nine season-high attendances.

The average attendance over the 16 games was 12,500, with South Africa producing the highest attendance by country, with 95,538 attending the four South African derby matches in Cape Town and Durban.

Ireland produced the next-best tally as 65,873 supporters visited Belfast, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, while there were two sell-outs in Wales and a season-high attendance (Ospreys) across Cardiff, Llanelli, Newport and Swansea, totalling 40,753 attendees. 

SA URC fans embrace summer rugby and barely a spare seat in Ireland

United Rugby Championship (URC) CEO Martin Anayi praised the work done by the clubs to break the attendance record and grow the game.

“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,” Anayi said.

“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.”

Anayi added that the number of fans packing into stadiums was humbling, considering the economic climate.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Round 10 and 11 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)

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

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Munster’s Jack Crowley backed to continue sublime form