Sport Champions Cup

Sunday 19 November 2017

Sharp increase in Irish Champions Cup attendances with 90,000 fans expected to attend semi-finals

Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster kicks a conversion during the Guinness PRO12 Round 20 match between Munster and Ulster at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster kicks a conversion during the Guinness PRO12 Round 20 match between Munster and Ulster at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) are expecting over 90,000 fans to attend this weekend's Champions Cup semi-finals with Munster welcoming Saracens to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday while Leinster will head to Lyon to take on Clermont on Sunday.

If the EPCR's projected figures materialise it would represent a 130% increase from last year's semi-finals which brought out a combined 38,968 fans for Saracens win over Wasps and Racing's triumph over Leicester.

The aggregate gate for the four quarter-final matches has also gone up by 62% compared with the same stage in 2015/16, with Champions Cup crowds set to pass the 1 million mark at next month's final in Edinburgh.

Irish Champions Cup attendances are up 17.82% this season with Leinster and Munster both experiencing sharp increases in their home attendances.

Munster have seen the biggest increase in attendance over the last season with an average attendance of 25, 900 across three pool games and a quarter-final compared to last season's average of 19,636 per game.

Similarly, Leinster have seen a 18.59% increase in their average home attendance with this month's quarter-final with Wasps helping boost the province's seasonal figures.

50, 266 spectators went to watch the Blues 32-17 win over Dai Young's side earlier this month, nearly double the attendance of any other quarter-final, with Leinster increasing their average Champions Cup home attendance from 25, 428 per game last season to 30, 156 per game this season.

Connacht's short lived campaign saw the Westerners sell out the Sportsgrounds twice against Toulouse and Wasps, with Pat Lam's side averaging 7, 262 fans across their three home pool games.

Meanwhile Ulster are the only Irish province from last season to experience a regression in attendance with the province seeing a marginal 0.5% decrease from an average of 16,111 fans per game last season to 16,022 fans per game this season.

The EPCR confirmed on Friday that both of this weekend's semi-finals will be be sold out.

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