Origin decider the biggest game in the world

 

Game Three of State of Origin is about to set a world record for the biggest outdoor sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, as the 52,000 seat Suncorp Stadium edges closer to a sellout.

The Queensland Government announced on Friday that Wednesday's blockbuster decider between the Maroons and NSW Blues is set to be played in front of a capacity crowd.

Since that announcement - including allowing full stadium capacity from tomorrow - the NRL released 16,000 seats of which only about 4000 remain.

Even with 48,000 sold, the game will be the largest sporting event in the world since the global pandemic took over, with Game Two of the Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand understood to have been the previous biggest crowd at 46,049.

 

Rob Schofield with five-year-old Archie will be cheering for the Maroons. Picture: Richard Walker
Rob Schofield with five-year-old Archie will be cheering for the Maroons. Picture: Richard Walker

 

In Australia, the current record stands at 37,303 from the NRL grand final at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

Queensland Rugby League chief operating officer Rohan Sawyer said yesterday his office didn't find out about the change from 75 per cent capacity to 100 per cent capacity for Game Three until Friday.

"I was told … this could be the largest outdoor sporting event in the world since COVID really took over. That's amazing," Mr Sawyer said.

He said they could not have been happier with the Government's surprise decision.

It follows a year where huge sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup, English Premier League and NBA have been played behind closed doors.

 

Rob Schofield with sons (left to right) Bayley (age 8), Archie (age 5) and Jayden (age 10) from Norths Devils Junior Rugby League Club. Picture: Richard Walker
Rob Schofield with sons (left to right) Bayley (age 8), Archie (age 5) and Jayden (age 10) from Norths Devils Junior Rugby League Club. Picture: Richard Walker

 

"Origin is about close games and those tight battles so we'll need all the support we can get on Wednesday," he said.

"With the year that we've had, to have the opportunity to even get to a live event, we're very lucky. But to get to Suncorp, the best rugby league stadium in this country, that's even better.

"There's no better game than Origin and to have a full crowd at home in a decider will mean the world to the team.

"Hats off to everyone in Queensland, from the government to the fans, who have worked so hard to get to this point.

"When we postponed Origin from June and July, we were looking at playing potentially without crowds.

Prior to Annastacia Palaszczuk's announcement, Origin III at Suncorp Stadium was just "days away" from a sellout at 75 per cent capacity, according to Mr Sawyer.

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced an easing of restrictions on Friday, including a 100 per cent crowd capacity for State of Origin III. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced an easing of restrictions on Friday, including a 100 per cent crowd capacity for State of Origin III. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall

An NRL spokesman then confirmed that since the announcement, a further 10,000 tickets had been sold with only 4000 remaining as Queensland creeps towards a full house on Wednesday night.

Another 2000 tickets were put aside as a gift to frontline healthcare workers and emergency services personnel, and the NRL said these were almost completely gone.

It is understood the NRL is on track to break the 50,000 mark and achieve the desired sellout of 52,000 at Suncorp Stadium, which will be a major boost for Wayne Bennett's Maroons in the decider.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said it was an "outstanding opportunity" for Origin fans.

"It has been an extraordinary season and remarkable that our final game of the year will be an Origin decider with no crowd cap," he said.

"It's amazing to think how far the game has come since the competition was suspended in March."

 

A packed Suncorp Stadium is on the cards. Picture: Annette Dew
A packed Suncorp Stadium is on the cards. Picture: Annette Dew

 

Albany Creek dad Rob Schofield and his sons Bayley, 8, Archie, 5, and Jayden, 10, plan to be cheering in front of their TV with a party pie in hand during Wednesday night's decider.

"I would have preferred obviously a 3-nil, but I'm used to it being a Raiders supporter we have nervous games every week," Mr Schofield said.

"Having it in Queensland as a decider sounds pretty good to me, we shouldn't get too many people south of the border because it's still a bit of an issue getting over the border so it'd be nice to see just all maroon there."

Mr Schofield has supported Queensland in the Origin since he was a boy and is stoked to be continuing the tradition with his sons.

"The boys all play footy, I coach Bayley, so they are all getting more interested in football now that they're playing it," he said.

The remaining tickets are on sale now through Ticketek.

 

 

SPORTING CROWDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Attendance - Event - Place - Date

46,049 - Bledisloe Cup 2 - Auckland, New Zealand - Oct 18

37,303 - NRL Grand Final - Sydney, Australia - Oct 25

36,000 - Bledisloe Cup 4 (Tri Nations) - Brisbane, Australia - Nov 7

31,700 - Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL - Texas, United States - Nov 8

29,707 - AFL Grand Final - Brisbane, Australia - Oc 24

20,000 - Nippon Professional Baseball - Japan - 2020 season (capacity per game)

16,700 - Zenit St. Petersburg v Club Brugge, Champions League - Russia - Oct 20

Limited or no crowd - English Premier League - United Kingdom - 2020-21 season

No crowd - NBA Finals Series, LA Lakers v Miami Heat - United States - 2020 season

 

 

 

Originally published as Origin decider the biggest game in the world


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