The Rugby League World Cup has so far surpassed the expectations of Rugby Football League chairman Brian Barwick.
The 14th edition of the tournament is well under way and is proving far more successful than the last time it graced UK shores 13 years ago.
Then, hampered by weather, the competition proved a financial disaster and left the RFL in debt.
There are no such problems this time around, though, with RFL chief Barwick revealing the tournament is set to make a profit.
The former Football Association chief executive has been “thrilled to bits” by the opening two weeks of the competition and is excited by its potential legacy for the sport.
“It has exceeded our expectations in terms of the amount of people going to the games, the level of media interest and the quality of the games as well,” Barwick said on Wednesday.
“I mean, there were over 10,000 at Leigh last night for Tonga versus the Cook Islands and we’re up to 70,000 tickets for the final.
“We have been astonished. We have had sell-outs at Rochdale, Warrington and Avignon, we’ve had two sell-outs at Workington. We’ve had the highest crowds to watch rugby league in Cumbria for 20 years.”
Even in Bristol, which is not known as a rugby league hotspot, 8000 supporters had turned out.
“Both the games England played on the BBC peaked at over two million. These are new figures for us,” he said.
“I think the trick with rugby league is that it is a world-class sport but has a real family feel to it.
“It has more than exceeded our expectations. We are thrilled with it.”