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Charity Shield match draws over 21,000 supporters

Tradition plays an important part in established charity events, connecting the initiative to the community

Tradition plays an important part in established charity events, connecting the initiative to the community through repeated contact and delivering improved public exposure.

While some programs are not sustainable in the long term, having support from corporate sponsors can certainly go a long way towards improving its prospects.

The National Rugby League's Charity Shield game is a good example of this phenomenon, with a history extending back to 1982.

Traditionally held three weeks before the beginning of the league season, the event on February 18 helps to show just how effective a mix of commercial engagement and charitable causes can be.

The game involves the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons facing off for the privilege of holding the Charity Shield for a year.

Proceeds from ticket sales are funneled to a number of Australian charities by the competing teams - with the Dragons supporting Wollongong and St George Hospitals, while the Rabbitohs fund their own South Cares community organisation with both ticket rates and merchandise sales.

As an added bonus, the jerseys worn by both sides have been signed by the players and will be auctioned off later this month.

The inaugural charity game started off with both teams playing to a crowd of less than 11,000, whereas the game held this year saw over 21,000 supporters pack into the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

For the Rabbitohs the end result of the pre-season match was unfavourable, with a loss to the Dragons of 18 points to 12 at full time.

While the end results matter little to the beneficiaries, the continued support of the clubs and their community organisations mean a lot.