Jodie Cunningham Proud Of Rugby League's Role In Record Numbers Watching Women's Sport

Almost a third of the population tuned in to watch women’s sport during the first five months of 2022
11:05, 10 Jun 2022

St Helens captain Jodie Cunningham feels proud that rugby league has played its part in drawing record numbers of viewers watching women’s sport in 2022 - significantly higher than the numbers from 2021 and she feels  there is more to come.

The Women’s Sport Trust revealed on Thursday that in the UK, almost a third of the population (21.1m) tuned in to watch women’s sport during the first five months of 2022 - three times more than the figures from last year. 

Cunningham, who is also an England international star as well as the RFL’s National Women’s and Girls Development Manager was pleased with the increase in numbers.

“It’s already been a fantastic year for women’s sport, and it’s so important that rugby league is part of that success,” she said.

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The Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup final at Elland Road was the biggest contribution to the increase in figures. The game was shown live on BBC Two and it pulled in a viewing peak of 300,000, whilst also drawing a record crowd inside the stadium, with 5,888 in attendance to witness St Helens come from behind to beat Leeds Rhinos. The profile of the women’s game is growing and it is another helping hand for women’s sports across the board.

Coverage of women’s rugby league is going to become more extensive as next weekend, Sky Sports’ expanded coverage of women’s rugby league in 2022 kicks off with England’s mid-season international with France. The broadcaster will also be showing a number of Betfred Women’s Super League fixtures leading up to the Grand Final on 18 September.

Cunningham added: “Our Challenge Cup Final went to another level this year with a record crowd at Elland Road and more than 300,000 watching on BBC2, and it’s fantastic that Sky will again be showing our Mid-Season International as well as more Women’s Super League matches than ever.

“There are so many different ways to watch women’s rugby league – BBC Sport also showed the Challenge Cup semi finals double header on iPlayer, the RFL’s Our League app has provided live coverage of games in the Challenge Cup and the Super League, and The Sportsman have also been great supporters of the women’s game, covering regular Super League games and this weekend’s international in Wales.

“It’s all part of the growing profile of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League – and the World Cup at the end of the year will take that to another level.”

The Sportsman will provide live and exclusive coverage on our YouTube channel this Sunday (June 12) of the first of two consecutive internationals for England Women – against Wales in Cross Keys, kicking off at 1pm.

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