Photo by Photosport
International rugby league will make a triumphant return to the southern hemisphere after Kiwi officials announced their first Test sell-out in more than 30 years for Saturday’s double-header at Mount Smart Stadium between New Zealand and Mate Ma’a Tonga.
The sell-out will be followed by full house signs again next weekend when the Warriors return home to play their first match at Mount Smart Stadium since 2019.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters said the sell-out for the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns Test double-header was a watershed moment for the game in New Zealand and demonstrated how much support there was for international rugby league.
“The fact this is the first time we’ve sold out a stadium in close to 34 years underlines just how significant this occasion is, even more so because it’s not a World Cup or Four Nations final,” Peters said.
“It’s a further sign of how much it means to the public to have international rugby league back in New Zealand after such a long break due to the Covid pandemic.”
More than 26,000 tickets have been sold for the back-to-back Tests for the Kiwi Ferns and the New Zealand Kiwis against Mate Ma’a Tonga and the sell-out marks the first time that New Zealand has played in front of a capacity crowd since the 1988 World Cup final at Auckland’s Eden Park.
When the stars align ✨ pic.twitter.com/hdA3bTHIle
— NZ Rugby League (@NZRL_Kiwis) June 23, 2022
That match was a 47,363 sell-out, the biggest crowd in New Zealand Rugby League history.
While there have been big crowds for internationals since 1988, none have sold out until now.
A near capacity crowd of 24,041 attended the 2017 Rugby League World Cup pool match between the Kiwis and Mate Ma’a Tonga at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium.
And Eden Park drew a crowd of 44,324 for the 2010 Four Nations doubleheader featuring the Kiwis against the Kangaroos and England against Papua New Guinea.
The sold-out sign has also gone up ahead of the Warriors’ long-awaited Mount Smart Stadium homecoming on July 3.
More than 26,500 fans will fill the stadium for the Auckland-based club’s first match at home in 1038 days since hosting South Sydney on August 30, 2019.
The Warriors’ only previous regular season sell out games were against Manly Sea Eagles in 2007 and the North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders in 2018.