Domestic professional rugby league is primarily played in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. In these counties it is tremendously strong and generates intense local rivalry and passion amongst both players and supporters. The game does have a burgeoning international profile as it is popular in Australia, New Zealand, France, Russia, is the national sport of PNG and has a 10 nation world cup planned for 2008 in Australia. However, a perception that league is primarily a club focused sport in comparison to rugby union is not uncommon.
I) In 2007, Super League XII had the best supported season since the sport's inception as a summer game in 1996. Leeds Rhinos averaged 17,500 to officially make the club the best supported UK rugby team. Teams which achieved the most significant increases were Wakefield and Huddersfield with the latter averaging over 7,000 for the first time since 1958. The gender ratio at clubs continues to be very favourable with (for example) Bradford crowds generally consisting of a 55% male and 45% female split. Leicester Tigers were the best supported union side and second overall in domestic rugby with an average of over 17,200 during the the 2006-7 Guinness Premiership season.
II) Super League is the best attended unmodified summer team sport averaging 10,050 in 2007 up from 9,026 in 2006.
III) The Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford has been a 65,000+ sell out between 2003 and 2007.
IV) Since the inception of Super League in 1996 the top 3 Super League attendances have been over 23,500. Two have featured Bradford vs Leeds, with the record crowd of 25,004 attending the March 2005 St. Helens vs Wigan match at the JJB stadium.
I) Rugby League sustains two weekly trade newspapers, Leaguer & League Express and League Weekly which have around 23,000 and 11,000 subscribers respectively and two monthly publications, Rugby League World and Thirteen Magazine.
II) Over 4 million people watch the Challenge Cup Final each year on Grandstand.
III) Viewing figures for Sky matches regularly surpass 250,000 viewers.
I) The sport’s 32 UK professional clubs deliver over 750,000 community "hits" per annum through their community development programmes.
II) The annual Schools Cup competition sponsored by Powergen from 2003 to 2006 and by Carnegie from 2007 onwards has increased the number of school teams from 300 to 1800 and the participation levels to over 30,000 from 6,000. Rugby league also won the 2004 Sportsmatch award in the women and girls participation category. The game is played nationally in over 70 universities and has a strong national summer competition – the Rugby League Conference.
III) Due to the sport's pro-active recruitment drive adult playing numbers stand in excess of 100% higher than in 2003. The numbers of participants have increased from from 32,000 registered players in 2002 to over 70,000.