Rugby Football League CEO Ralph Rimmer admits the game will have to implement its ‘plan B’ for the Challenge Cup final after Catalans reached Wembley on Sunday afternoon.
The Dragons stunned Super League leaders St Helens to book only their second-ever appearance in the final – and immediately sparking fears of a reduced crowd at Wembley when they play Warrington in three weeks’ time.
There has not been an attendance lower than 60,000 for the final – excluding replays – since 1946. Rimmer, however, insists he is optimistic the cup final can still be a great occasion – saying the RFL will adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly to provide a big crowd.
“Let’s not forget the Catalans do have a very big following,” Rimmer insisted. There will be some logistical issues but we tend to chase them up a bit.
“I spoke to them (Bernard Guasch and Christophe Jouffret) and they were clearly jubilant, as you would expect. Their next challenge is mobilising a lot of French fans and they understand that.
“And don’t forget how many French there are in London. We’ll tweak our marketing plan. We have a marketing plan A and marketing plan B and we’ll put marketing plan B into action, we’ll get it fired up and make it a great day.”
Rimmer also admits he is looking forward to seeing the flavour the Catalans bring to Wembley later this month, too.
“We brought Catalans into this competition to give us a bit of magic and I thought they did today,” he said.
“I thought they were exceptionally good and they will ignite some interest over in Perpignan and hopefully they’ll bring plenty across.
Meanwhile, on the semi-final double-header selling out, with 26,086 fans in attendance, Rimmer admitted the occasion ‘ticked a lot of boxes’.
He said: “I thought this occasion was rugby league at its best, lots of fans mingling with each other and everybody cheering their second team. I’m sure it looked good on television. It ticked a lot of boxes for us today.”