More than 8,000 spectators descended on the Den on Saturday, September 5, but it wasn’t Millwall – or even football – that was on show at the home of the Lions.
Wigan Warriors secured an impressive 42-16 win over Catalans in front of the biggest crowd Super League has seen in London for nine years.
The Super Eights match was arranged in east London to raise the profile of the sport – and the Warriors – in the capital, and Shaun Wane’s side didn’t disappoint – running in seven tries in front of 8,101 fans.
“Let’s aim for 16,000 next time,” said Wane. “To introduce our team to the capital is great, for people in London to come and see our team play is a win-win for everyone.
“Catalans have got players from all over the world and most of my team are young Wigan kids who have come through our system, we should be very proud and I am.”
Around 40 coachloads of fans, plus many more who travelled by car or train, made the 450-mile round trip to support the club’s expansion into London.
Chairman Ian Lenagan said: “It was ambitious and we faced a number of voices doubting the strategy but we like a challenge at Wigan and have a fantastic team that left no stone unturned in their attempts to promote this game, the profile of the Wigan club and to reach the people of London.
“A strong marketing campaign saw the game featured in a wide range of London publications and online, whilst it was also great to see extensive Wigan Warriors branding at London Bridge train station, throughout the stadium and around the capital.
“The response after the game personally to Wigan directors and staff and via social media from the non-Rugby League spectators who attended was highly complimentary with many relishing another live game next year.”
The chairman was clearly satisfied with the crowd: “This game has shown that there is a very clear interest in Rugby League in London, as we thought.” Lenagan said.
The day was a success on the field too with the Wigan team recording another fine victory to maintain their 100% home record and secure a place in the Super League semi-finals.
“It has been a highly-satisfactory event for the Wigan club. Our thanks go particularly to Millwall Football Club for their professionalism and support in hosting the event at their excellent stadium.”
The win kept up Wigan’s 100% home record, and secures a place in the Super League semi-finals.