Australia-Samoa final set for big crowd

Officials are expecting a crowd of around 64,000 to attend the World Cup final between Australia and Samoa, which will take the aggregate for the men's tournament past 400,000.

With 356,287 having watched the 30 matches so far, the total is guaranteed to top the 382,080 aggregate from the 2017 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

But it will fall below the record of 453,483 established for the last tournament in England in 2013.

It will also fall well short of the ambitious target of 750,000 ticket sales set by tournament chief executive Jon Dutton, but comes in the wake of a cost-of-living crisis in post-pandemic England.

Saturday's turn-out for the double-header, starting with the women's final between Australia and New Zealand, is unlikely to match the sell-out crowd of 74,468 for the clash between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis in 2013 but will bring in three times the revenue, according to Dutton.

"It promises to be a special day," he said. "We've sold between 63,000 and 64,000 tickets and, if you put into context the two finals not involving the host nation, that's good.

"The final will gross more than three times the 2013 final if you add in tickets and hospitality, and that's important because it's an expensive tournament to pay for.

"You can't pay for it on fresh air and ticket revenue is always important.

"We're still seeing some interest in tickets but nothing like what we'd have seen if England had won on Saturday and if the women had won on Monday.

"That's not anything we can control but if you go through the highlights in terms of crowds, there was an opening-day record with Newcastle and Leeds, for example.

"There was the biggest crowd to watch England versus France for 65 years, the biggest crowd ever to watch rugby league in Sheffield and the semi-finals combined were a record.

Organisers have been even more delighted with attendances for the women's and wheelchair tournaments, with the latter guaranteed a 5,000 sell-out at Manchester Central for the clash between England and France.

"By Friday we'll have broken the wheelchair record crowd three times over," Dutton said. "And we know that the viewing figures will be incredible.

"We've helped boost that product and where could it go in the future? That's a product that could go global and have more competitive nations and I think it's super exciting."