Gareth Ellis - Why there are 30 million reasons to thank Barcelona

Record Super League crowd: Catalans Dragons v Wigan Warriors at Camp Nou, Barcelona. Picture: SWPix
Record Super League crowd: Catalans Dragons v Wigan Warriors at Camp Nou, Barcelona. Picture: SWPix
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HOW great was it to see Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons doing Super League battle in the Nou Camp?

It’s phenomenal. Even when you go back to last year when, with Hull, we went to play in Australia (against Wigan) at Wollongong and in Sydney, it was a similar sort of atmosphere from the supporters.

People just had to be there and it’s been the same with Wigan and Catalans fans now over in Barcelona.

However, there’s also been rugby league fans – who don’t support either – who just made the trip across to see a new stadium and witness something special and unique.

It’s fantastic for the sport to think Barcelona FC have helped do this.

I’m sure many involved in that club will never have even heard of rugby league, even though Catalans is not too far away.

I’m sure many involved in that club will never have even heard of rugby league, even though Catalans is not too far away. So, for them to be putting Tweets out to almost 30m people, that’s a reach we could never even try to do here, let alone achieve.

Dave Craven

So, for them to be putting Tweets out to almost 30m people, that’s a reach we could never even try to do here, let alone achieve.

Even with all the marketing ploys in the world, that is just not the sort of thing you can produce, so it is a massive feat to be able to have tapped into that.

Social media is the way of the world nowadays so getting Super League out there like this is brilliant.

The only thing better would have been if they could have got Lionel Messi in the crowd as well!

There was a crowd of 31,555 to witness it, a new record for the biggest gate for a regular Super League game.

That’s around 6,000 more than the previous best and it was wonderful to see Catalans do so well with the crowd.

They got the win, too, with an impressive performance in that second half and it will be fascinating to see how the sport now builds in and around Barcelona with these new partnerships formed.

It’s really good to see and there will be another iconic, world-famous stadium hosting Super League following up this week as the competition heads to Liverpool FC’s Anfield for Magic Weekend.

It’s pretty good advertising and, hopefully, we can do as much with it as possible to get some rewards off the back of it.

There are some unhappy that Magic has not stayed in Newcastle. But who is to say we might not go back there at some point?

I can’t speak from a fan’s point of view but, as a player, I know for a fact that everyone cannot wait to play at Anfield.

I’m a bit gutted myself having come back out of retirement and started playing again only to now know I won’t get a chance to play there due to the injury I got against Castleford last week.

I think it’s great for the sport if we can get some momentum from these fixtures in terms of publicity and the fact there’s six rugby league games being played at Anfield.

It can only be good for the sport. We are guilty of beating our game up a little bit and we just need to have a more positive outlook on it and, if so, maybe we will reap some rewards from it.

From what I gather, the NRL’s first Magic in Brisbane was a success and they’re now talking about moving it around to various states.

When Magic was brought in here, it was deemed as a festival of rugby league; an opportunity for fans to watch teams and players that they don’t normally get to see live.

You always get people who are negative about these things but I do think it’s a great idea and long may it continue.

As mentioned, I am injured but, hopefully, for just a couple of weeks. When it first happened, to my ankle and knee, we feared it could have been longer.

But even then I didn’t think about packing in again. It’s just an injury. When I came back, Lee Radford said there would be a period where I’d have a low – a dip in form or injury – but not to let it cloud my judgement as I was playing well. I won’t. I’ll be back once more.