Salford Red Devils’ game against Leeds Rhinos at the weekend was the most-watched Coral Challenge Cup Final by a domestic audience in eight years.
Ian Watson’s side narrowly lost out 17-16 to the Yorkshire club in a thrilling final at Wembley Stadium.
The game, played behind-closed-doors due to Covid-19 restrictions, was broadcast live on BBC One on Saturday afternoon and attracted an audience that was up more than fifty percent on last year’s final, as well as being watched by millions around the world.
— The Coral Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) October 20, 2020
RFL Chief Executive, Ralf Zimmer commented:
“Saturday’s Coral Challenge Cup Final was a wonderful advert for Rugby League and a tremendous credit to everybody involved – especially the clubs and players from both sides. My congratulations go to Leeds Rhinos and my commiserations to Salford Red Devils. They created a magnificent spectacle.
“And on behalf of the RFL I’d like to thank the many others whose contribution was outstanding – first and foremost Rob Burrow. Our chief guest ‘in absentia’ was in all our hearts throughout the day and we are honoured to have such a wonderful human being connected with our sport.
“The BBC’s presentation was superb – engaging, informative, sensitive and thoroughly professional throughout. Clare Balding was typically ebullient in her first official engagement as RFL President, Lizzie Jones was another to hit the right note, and Jodie Cunningham and James Simpson were fantastic ambassadors for next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
“My only sadness and incredible frustration is that supporters – Rhinos, Red Devils and neutral fans alike – were not allowed inside the stadium. The game is not the same without them and we continue to make our case to government as powerfully as we possibly can.
“Finally, I’d like to thank our competition title partner, Coral, for their continued support and look forward to seeing Wembley Stadium packed to the rafters on 17 July 2021.”
As well as registering a notable Challenge Cup Final audience, the 2020 competition overall attracted an aggregate of almost six million viewers – the highest in the last five years despite having two fewer fixtures televised due to the competition’s restructure.
Tickets for next year’s Final at Wembley Stadium will go on general sale next month in the hope that supporters will be allowed to return to venues for sporting events by July 2021.