There’s nothing like an incredible stadium cacophony to enhance your rugby league experience.
From brilliant chants to the roar of a try, a stadium truly is a wonderful place to be on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.
But how do Super League stadiums rank in terms of best atmosphere?
1. The Restorative Jungle – Castleford Tigers
It may be run down, but there’s just something special about watching a game at the Jungle. From the closeness of the supporters to the pitch, you can hear everything shouting on the stands – which often puts the fear of God in traveling teams. When opposition fans visit, they often call it one of the most hostile atmospheres in the country and is it any wonder that the chanting of “gerrin ‘to ’em” begins to fill the iconic floor like an opera hoarse from Yorkshire. One of the few remaining traditional stadiums, it’s a truly iconic and unique Super League experience.
2. Headingley – Leeds Rhino
Having modern facilities and retaining that traditional rugby league atmosphere is no mean feat, but Leeds seem to have achieved what they owe to the noise their loyal Southstanders continue to provide. Fans may be able to question the roofless exterior at Headingley, however they cannot question the atmosphere which is why it is rated so highly. Sure, this group is often the butt of jokes from opposition fans, but you can’t say they’re not unique, even if they get rather boring after a while. .
3. Craven Park – Hull KR
Hull KR moved to New Craven Park in 1989 after just under 70 years at Old Craven Park. The stadium has been refurbished since Rovers were promoted to the Super League in 2006 and now has a capacity of over 12,000. The East Stand generates noise and is considered the Kop end of the pitch, while the Colin Hutton North Stand, which was erected ahead of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, gives the venue a modern feel and brings the action fans. A robust set of supporters, they certainly make their presence felt, making for one of the antagonistic atmospheres you will experience.
4. Halliwell Jones Stadium – Warrington Wolves
Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium moves up to fourth. Many Wire supporters were upset when the club left Wilderspool in 2003, but their new home has been able to recreate much of that atmosphere thanks to the terraced South Stand, which plays host to the more vocal home fans. The ground is one of many people’s favorite modern rugby league stadiums and is often the venue for semi-finals and major events. Having the stands close to the pitch also adds to the aura and visiting fans make the trip in droves.
5. MKM Stadium – Hull FC
The only football ground to feature in the top five, KCOM Stadium (formerly known as KC Stadium) has been the home of Hull FC since 2003. Hull have struggled somewhat to recreate the color and noise of their former home of the boulevard, which is why it’s only at number five, but KCOM are capable of producing a good atmosphere, especially when nearing capacity for the Hull derby. It also helps to have such a vocal audience that can replace the soulless nature of a brand new new venue.
6. Be Well Support Stadium – Wakefield Trinity
Belle Vue, as it is more commonly known, has been the home of Wakefield since 1879. Despite talk of being moved away from the ground for many years, it remains Trinity’s longtime home and is one of the most traditional game. It comes with an old-school vibe that has been cited by many as the reason it was included in their top three. Inches from the action, Wakefield fans are sure to make their presence known, although the ‘Benidorm flats’ at one end of the pitch somewhat drown out surround sound.
7. Gilbert Brutus Stadium – Catalans Dragons
The home of the Catalans Dragons is a cauldron of noise; the only problem is that most of it is directed at the referee, which often spoils the overall atmosphere. Away fans love going to Perpignan, although the view from the gods in the right-hand corner of the pitch leaves a lot to be desired. The stadium would also benefit from four stands, rather than the three that surround the pitch. That being said, the French experience is definitely one that fans will always remember.
8. Totally Wicked Stadium – St Helens
The newest ground on the list, St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium, has received mixed reviews from supporters since it opened as ‘Langtree Park’ in 2012. It would be fair to say that the Saints have struggled to bring the intimidating atmosphere of Knowsley Road to their new home, but it still provides a good level of noise for big games, like the Good Friday derby with Wigan, although throughout the season we can’t say the same.
9. Ernest Wallon Stadium – Toulouse Olympique
Stade Ernest Wallon has just arrived at number 9, the newly promoted stadium of Toulouse Olympique. Despite holding 19,500 – which is rarely filled on match days, the Ernest Walloon creates a racket that ranks among the best. However, the atmosphere does not yet rival Stade Gilbert Brutus – its French rival – but stepping into the top flight can help close the gap.
10. AJ Bell Stadium – Salford Red Devils
Alongside St Helens in 2012, Salford also opened their new AJ Bell Stadium in the same year. While the Willows boasted a great atmosphere, the AJ Bell somewhat lacked it. And the fact that it is almost never full ruins the positive atmosphere that could have been generated. The Salford supporters who occupy the stands are making their voices heard, however, but that is not enough to impress on a large scale.
11. DW Stadium – Wigan Warriors
Sorry Wigan fans, but the DW Stadium just doesn’t excite fans as a venue. He is, of course, suffocated by the empty seats which are only filled when St Helens come to town for the derby – and that is not the fault of the Wigan club themselves given that the ground is leased. Yes, the facilities are fantastic behind the stands, but once there it’s often disappointing – unless a team with a lot of supporters come to town like Salford did in the playoff semi-final of the Super League in 2019.
12. John Smith Stadium – Huddersfield Giants
John Smith’s Stadium is firmly ranked as the worst of all away fans in terms of atmosphere. It’s also no surprise that the last two stadiums on this list are primarily built for football and larger crowds. Huddersfield have never filled the John Smith’s for a home game, with the semi-finals often struggling to fill the venue as well. It’s just too big for a rugby league team and that dampens the atmosphere considerably.