It was a night unlike any other at WIN Stadium.
A night two English Super League clubs played for competition points in Wollongong. A night English fans made their presence known both inside and outside the stadium. And a night rugby league was showcased to the world.
The match saw Wigan round out winners 24 points to 10, but this game was about much more than the final scoreline. It was about the thousands of British tourists that descended on Wollongong for the match. It was about the growth of the sport of rugby league. And it was about showing off Wollongong as a tourist destination.
Fans from both clubs traveled far and wide, with the opportunity for a holiday to Australia too great to pass up for those who made the trip. In the end there were 12,416 spectators in attendance, a figure that surpasses the crowds recorded when the two clubs faced off back home during the 2017 season.
The match was officially a Wigan home game, but the Warriors fans were comfortably outnumbered by Hull FCsupporters. The Hull fans set up camp in the northern end of the field, filling the stadium’s northern stand. Once there, the fans chanted and sung and supported their club for the entire 80 minutes.
For most Hull fans at the venue, it was the furthest they had traveled to watch their team play, but they were more than happy to do so to witness history be made.
“We absolutely love it,” Lance Cator said. “We came down from Sydney this afternoon, the sun is shining, the hospitality is great, we’re having a great time.
“We’re home and away fans, every game, me and my boys go to. This is the biggest away trip, normally it’s to Catalans. But this is a whole lot better than Catalans, the surf and the atmosphere, it’s amazing.
Despite being outnumbered by opposition fans, the Wigan supporters were not to be outdone. Sitting in the southern stand, the fans were at their boisterous best throughout the game.
“We came on the Wigan trip because we follow Wigan home and away,” Jason Stanton said. “We’re so excited to be here in Australia, it’s the first time for all of us. We traveled 24 hours, but it’s absolutely worth it, there’s a great atmosphere.”
While many British fans took the opportunity for a trip down under, the match also gave British expats the chance to watch their favourite team play live.
“I traveled down from Taree this morning and I’m traveling back up Sunday morning,” Graham Earl said before the game.
“I couldn’t miss a Wigan game, I’m a fanatic. Every game in Australia they’ve ever played, I’ve been there. I was at the World Club Challenge in England last year.”