Level Playing Field Fan Survey
Disabled supporters of Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors led the way as Rugby League recorded an unprecedented number of responses in the 2023 Level Playing Field Annual Fan Survey.
The Betfred Super League sides – who clash at Headingley this weekend in a Women’s and Men’s double header – both finished in the top ten clubs across England and Wales for responses to the charity’s survey, which is open across all sports and divisions.
Previously, no Rugby League club had received enough responses to reach the top 50, but a concerted effort by the RFL and professional clubs across the sport has resulted in an uptake which will provide invaluable data on work around accessibility and inclusion over the coming year.
Level Playing Field have now provided the clubs with individual reports, which they will be able to use to get detailed insight on the experiences of their disabled fans. Both clubs have committed to work with the charity on a review of their public access statements and will each be furthering their consultation with supporters directly, by holding disabled fans’ forums.
Ben Abberstein, Inclusion Lead at the Rugby Football League, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Level Playing Field on accessibility – an essential part of what we’re doing to advance inclusion in Rugby League and a commitment shared by our clubs who promoted the Annual Fan Survey.
“The response we achieved is a remarkable display of the passion of Rugby League fans and we congratulate Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors on placing in the top ten clubs overall. We look forward to working with our clubs and Level Playing Field to understand the data and improve access across the sport so that disabled people are able to fully express their passion for the game.”
Wigan Warriors Operations Director Wayne Joyce said: “We are delighted to see that there has been valuable data gathered through the survey conducted by Level Playing Field.
“We are always striving to deliver a fully inclusive offer for our fans and it’s very positive to see that the impact is being recognised. We will continue to make ongoing improvements and use the survey as a driver for further positive change.”
He added: “We look forward to working closely with the RFL and Level Playing Field in the future to maintain a high quality matchday experience for all supporters and especially those with specific needs.”
Owain Davies, Chief Executive of Level Playing Field, said: “We have been delighted by the dramatic change in response levels from Rugby League fans in this year’s annual fan survey and are particularly grateful to Ben Abberstein at the RFL, for his work in promoting club engagement.
“This year, we saw a record level of responses as a whole, so for Leeds and Wigan to reach the top ten now is testament to their fan engagement. Both clubs have now shown a huge appetite to make use of the data, work with us, and find out more about their disabled fans.
“Rugby League does so much great work on participation for disabled athletes, so it is now fantastic to give our support towards this renewed focus on provisions for disabled fans.”
After Saturday’s double header at Leeds, Wigan Warriors will host their second annual “Festival of Inclusivity” in their last home league fixture of the season against Castleford Tigers at the DW Stadium on Friday September 15.
The 2023 Level Playing Field Annual Fan Survey received more than 1750 responses from disabled fans across all sports. The charity is now in the process of preparing a full report on the results, which will made publicly available to fans and sent to clubs, in order for them to see how they perform in a wider sporting context.