What everyone wants to know: Is Australia a rugby country or is Australia an Australian Rules football country?
It would seem the latter is the case, as the NRL staged some true heart-stoppers in the first round of the 2017 Finals Series, but no one went to the games.
The disparity in attendance is nearly staggering. The AFL had total attendance of over 235,000, while the NRL got only a few above 75,000.
The Manly Sea Eagles v the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Football Stadium was the first-week-finals-attendance-wooden-spoon recipient, drawing just over 15,000 fans. The 22 – 10 final score was the loosest of the four games, but it was tied at 10 – 10 in the 74th minute. Video of the game showed a sea of empty blues seats, almost giving the appearance that the game was general admission and fans could simply take the best seat available.
Is the AFL siphoning off fans from the NRL?
Did rugby fans choose to stay home and watch on TV?
Can the NRL expect the same thing this weekend when the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys face off this weekend at ANZ Stadium?
It almost seems as there is too much going on at one time. True, there will always be some level of competition for behinds to fill the seats, but having the NRL and AFL finals at the same time is a misfortunate scheduling error that should be rectified. The NRL and the AFL have both adopted systems where finals rounds are spread out over three or four days per round, but just the same, how many of the average joes could foot the bill for an NRL finals game on Friday evening, followed by an AFL final the next day?
It is not just the NRL that is experiencing a drop in attendance. Only about 10,000 showed up at Royal Randwick to see Winx make history, so it would seem that a saturation point has been reached, for one reason or another.