NSW WARATAHS general manager of rugby Tim Rapp praised the passion of Hunter fans and will explore returning to Newcastle for a third season despite a poor crowd for the loss to the Blues at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The 7491 who braved atrocious conditions on Saturday night was the lowest home attendance in the Waratahs' 25-year history and the first time it has dropped under 10,000.
The constant rain which drowned the Hunter and Central Coast had a major impact, as did the battering that Sydney copped, preventing Waratahs members from travelling up the freeway.
"The weather made a difference, no doubt, but there were still good rugby people there and I hope we brought some new people to rugby as well," said Rapp, who was born in Singleton and played for the Newcastle Wildfires. "It shows that people in Hunter have a passion for rugby. There was passion in the grandstand and on the hill. There were young kids running around playing footy. That is what it is about."
The Waratahs' clash against the Sunwolves last year attracted 12,621 fans, just under the season average of 13,069 - the most of any Australian franchise in 2019.
The Waratahs' regular home at Moore Park is being redeveloped and out of action until 2023.
"We will continue to have conversations with Venues NSW and City of Newcastle council," Rapp said. "The city is on the up and up.
"From a rugby perspective, to come back for a second year in a row is fantastic. Massive credit to the staff here at McDonald Jones Stadium. The surface was fantastic.
"We have to get across the state. We spruik that we are the NSW Waratahs - a state based team. Newcastle is a proud sporting hub and I think coming back here again shows the rise and level of rugby in the community as well."