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Is the Magic Weekend format sustainable?

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George Riley George Riley | 09:24 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Murrayfield and the Millennium Stadium drew a mixed response, but I thought Manchester was a magic weekend for rugby league.

It remains a unique concept that thrills its fans and frustrates its critics. Fourteen teams, 14 sets of supporters, seven matches, two days, one stadium. It reads like an "all you can eat" menu for the die-hard rugby league fan.

But was the Magic Weekend a success in its first (and presumably not its last) year in Manchester? Is the concept sustainable? And if it is such a magnificent sporting innovation, then why is rugby league alone in doing it?

On attendances alone, the Rugby Football League's (RFL) decision to bring it closer to the heartlands worked. Crowds may have appeared sparse at times on television but the aggregate weekend gate of almost 64,000 was actually a record. Is it proof that attempts to take the game to Cardiff and Edinburgh were not worth it? I'm not convinced.

Sam Tomkins

Sam Tomkins scored two tries to help Wigan beat St Helens 42-16 during an ill-tempered encounter at the Magic Weekend. Photo: Getty

Last year in Cardiff the overall gate was only 2,500 smaller. This was an event played further from the guaranteed areas of rugby league support and at the start of the season in dodgy weather.

This month's glorious burst of Mediterranean sun was a major leg-up for the RFL. You had to pinch yourself that you were in Manchester, not Madeira.

Even strangers to the sport were drawn into the Etihad carnival and the chance to immerse themselves in the kaleidoscope of colours around the impressive home of the Premier League champions.

However, while crowd numbers were at an all-time high for the event, they were still smaller than the RFL had anticipated and indeed hoped for. Had the heatwave faded into the more regular grey Manchester drizzle, I have no doubt the numbers would have been lower still.

But Nigel Wood, RFL's chief executive, seems happy enough. He told me: "I think Magic Weekend 2012 encapsulated all that is great about rugby league - superb athletes delivering skilful and exciting entertainment to enthusiastic crowds in a terrific stadium."

In terms of the product it was as good as anyone could have wished. There was everything: last-minute match-winning drama, sensational solo tries - Sam Tomkins' latest effort will live long in the memory - and three red cards in one match.

Yet in lauding this unique spectacle there is still much to consider. It remains a logistical nightmare.

A Manchester City-supporting BBC colleague wandered up to the club shop on Saturday unaware that rugby league had taken over her manor. "It looked great but how do they control all those different fans together?"

This is indeed why rugby league can put this event on - as a sport with family at its very heart. Indeed the City officials used to staffing Premier League football appeared perplexed that all these sets of supporters could mingle freely.

A couple of stewards near the media and players' area soon learned there was no need for their no-nonsense stewarding approach - the players were happy to be approached by fans for photos and autographs and the officials' attempted interventions were unnecessary.

But there were other issues that other sports would not have stood for. The roll-on, roll-off format means four changing rooms are needed. The two main dressing rooms are of a higher standard than the reserve rooms.

I had a long chat with Warrington's assistant coach Willie Poching during the opening match of the weekend as Wakefield beat Castleford. Warrington were straight on after that against Widnes and were thus given a smaller dressing room. Luck of the draw, perhaps, but Wolves weren't happy and opted to have their half-time team talk and treatments administered on the side of the pitch.

I can't imagine many Premier League football clubs accepting inferior facilities to their rivals, but this did not prevent Warrington walloping bottom club Widnes.

And therein lies the other big Magic weekend issue, namely getting the fixtures right. The move to May from the opening weekend was a guaranteed winner, as ferocious high-scoring contests replaced lacklustre early season affairs that prevailed in Cardiff.

But with this extra round of fixtures on top of the regular home and away calendar, is it right that Wigan and Saints, Bradford and Leeds, Wakefield and Castleford, Hull FC and Hull KR, fight out intense local derbies and Warrington get a chance to smash Widnes?

If I were one of Warrington's title rivals I'd be a little unhappy at the Wolves being virtually handed an extra two points - with all due respect to Widnes it always had the feel that it would go the way it did, with Warrington winning 68-4.

The Magic posters promised "seven of the biggest rivalries in rugby league over one weekend". Warrington v Widnes, Catalan v London and Huddersfield against Salford don't really fall under that banner.

So is it sustainable? I think so. The timing and scheduling are absolutely paramount but I think Manchester was a huge success overall and understand the RFL is keen to take it back there next year - talks are ongoing with Manchester City and Manchester City Council.

And the players like it too. Leeds' Danny McGuire said: "It is a fantastic concept and hopefully in the future we can get more numbers in."

And Warrington's Lee Briers likens it to a cup final: "It's a big occasion and a big stadium and we want to be involved in both of those things."

The minor creases in such an ambitious event can always be ironed out and my overwhelming feeling is that this event offers the sport a showcase to shine, and those Super League clubs who rarely make a final the chance to experience that big-match adrenalin rush.

A final thought this week for Adrian Purtell, the Bradford Bulls centre who was taken ill after suffering a heart attack on the team coach returning from their defeat to Leeds. I know everyone involved in the sport wishes Adrian a full and fast recovery.


  • Comment number 1.

    1st off, hope purtell makes a full recovery

    Moving to the magic weekend, as a rl fan i cant complain too much really lots of rl on the telly for me, the only gripe would be some of the one sided match ups. Maybe change the formula where 1st plays 2nd, 3rd plays 4th and so on, im sure that will make more of the game alot more competitive but then of course you have the counter argument of the hull derby and the wigan saints game being the best spectacle in RL.

    I also think they should move it to a smaller capacity stadium as you may have 32,000 paying customers each day but you only have possibley 16,17k in the ground when a match is going on as quite a few fans go home after their teams have played and its never attractive watching a supposed showpiece event in a 3rd full stadium

    roll on next magic weekend!

  • Comment number 2.

    As one of the 5000+ Warrington fans at the Magic Weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. The event gave us a third chance to play Widnes this season, which in its own way is quite a challenge, because they have beaten Wigan already this season.
    I would prefer the luck of a draw to pick the matches for the 'Magic' event. Alternatively you could use the format for the 'last 16' stage of the Challenge Cup, which might bolster the attendances for Cup matches.

  • Comment number 3.

    Your argument is mute. On attendences alone the magic weekend is a failure. An aggregate of nearly 64,000 against an aggregate of 85,572 for the last time the teams met in corresponding fixtures. Looking at the attendences the difference is seeing the Good Friday clash between Bradford and Leeds (20,821) played to an empty stadium, imagine that when Bradford really need the attendence. And as you say the Magic weekend had the weather on it's side.

    The magic weekend is no doubt an effort to globalise Rugby League. Stop it, it doesn't work. Spend time and effort looking after Rugby League where it is played, make it better where it is and it will grow naturally. Force it to expand and it will die at the roots.

  • Comment number 4.

    There might have been record crowds, but there are now 2 extra teams in super league and therefore an extra game, so only a 2,500 increase is pretty poor as far as I am concerned.

    I do enjoy the magic weekend and after this weekend decided I was going to attend next years, but that might just be because of the weather.

    I think the Derby games should be scrapped for either a random draw or a 1 v 2, 3 v 4 (from last season standings) etc set of games.

    I am a Rhinos fan, so it was a great weekend for me.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think these magic weekends don't really work, the supporters of the two teams playing watch, then go, I bet the overlap of RL fans to watch the next game is pretty low looking at the dominant colours in the crowd for each team. I think it should be moved to a smaller stadium because it just seems rather soulless to see all those empty places when great games are taking place. Putting it in a 30,000 capacity would be so much better.

    Personally sick to death of everything being Manchester-related and it is time everyone including the BBC remembered there is a big UK out there. Put the Magic Weekend somewhere where the game is loved and supported and get out of the Etihad.

  • Comment number 6.

    Great occasion that many of our juniors really enjoyed - all of them new to rugby this year after being part of brand new junior sides, the Bury Broncos juniors who went realy really loved it (and may be at a Super League game this week as a result!). Manchester is not a hot-bed of the game and should be seen as a development area - just a couple of junior sides in the city and no open age side putting out a regular team, Magic should really have been about pushing the game forward in the City and hopefully, will be in the City again next year.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi George.

    Firstly I hope Adrian Purtell recovers quickly.

    The magic weekend did have some fantastic games and we saw some fantastic tries thanks to the pitch being firmer and the weather helping fast running rugby. Sam Tomkins and Tom Briscoe really do seem to get better and better everytime I see them play.

    Agree with other poster though that many fans turned up for their games and then left. In Cardiff and Murrayfield people had travelled to the city for the weekend so more stayed for the full event.

    Lastly if the idea of the Magic Weekend is to promote the sport then why show it on Sky tv? That automatically limits the number of people watching it. It has to be live on terrestial tv to give more people the chance to see the sport (though the BBC highlights were very good).

  • Comment number 8.

    Stop with the positivity George, you're addressing an audience of rugby league fans. Didn't you know that everything in the sport is rubbish?

    Manchester was always going to be a very different experience from Edinburgh or Cardiff. It's much easier for the majority of fans to be there and back in a day rather than stay over for the weekend, which was always going to cut down on the number of "neutrals" in the ground for each of the games.

    The RFL need to have a think about what purpose the event is serving though. If it's supposed to be about taking the sport to the doorstep of a new audience, then should they really be caring that much about making it accessible to those fans from the M62 corridor? Should a good overall attendance be sacrificed at the altar of bringing new fans in to the game?

    If the focus is on creating a third "event" for the domestic RL calendar to sit alongside the Cup final and Grand Final and reflect the sport in a good light, then maybe they need to think about how you encourage fans to stick around for the full day rather than vacating their seats once their team has finished.

    #3 - using the Good Friday game at Odsal as part of your comparison skews it significantly. Had it not been for the Bulls much publicised financial crisis (anyone else feel they've been taken for a ride on that one?) that game would have been lucky to crack 10k on what was an absolutely filthy night. These games aren't replacements for the league fixtures, they're an addition to them.

    #5 - "everything being so Manchester related"? It's not that long ago fans were moaning about the London-based media not giving rugby league a fair crack of the whip. Now the BBC (and a number of press organisations) have relocated onto the M62 corridor it's all too Manchester related? Whereabouts in Yorkshire would you like the games played?

  • Comment number 9.

    Sunday was my first time at the magic weekend, mainly because it was within 45 minutes of my house, and Dad & I enjoyed every minute.

    We have only a passing interest in the game, so to see so many of the teams play was a real boon. I nominally support Wigan, he Huddersfield; getting to see both was great.

    The fans were superb all day, Salford, Leeds & Wigan all enjoying their wins to our entertainment. Particularly impressed by just how quick Sam Tompkins is. I often watch City at the Etihad, and I don't think i've seen anyone move quicker.

    As a showcase for Rugby League, the Magic Weekend is a great idea. I understand why fans of the club don't like it, but it is innovative and unique - a good selling point for the sport. I guess people like Dad and me are who it is aimed at. Will we now go to a Superleague game? Probably.

    The weekend also has to be competitive, as no-one would turn up for friendlies. How you manage to ensure all clubs get a 'fair go' is a tricky one, but the games have to be 'real'.

    As for the dressing rooms - I used to help out with a non-league football club and had many occasions to visit the dressing rooms at Knowsley Road. Although no longer there of course, I've no doubt that the 'lesser' rooms at the Etihad were much more salubrious than they were!

    Looking forward to next year.

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't help feeling that the RFL have failed to market Magic Weekend with any conviction.

    I'm a Man City fan and only found out that date and venue of Magic Weekend by accident - I'd gone to pick up something from the club shop and noticed a giant poster!

    I'm only a casual fan of rugby league (attend a couple of games a year), but would definitely have picked up a weekend ticket for me and my little lad if there'd been better advertising.

    If the idea is to spread the game beyond it's grass roots, then the powers that be must try harder I'm afraid. (However, on a positive note, it's a cracking concept, brilliantly priced and ideal for families).

  • Comment number 11.

    I think you hit one nail on the head with this comment George - "A Manchester City-supporting BBC colleague wandered up to the club shop on Saturday unaware that rugby league had taken over her manor". I never got the feel (and this may be just down to accents) that it was embraced locally like it has been in the past in say Cardiff with newcomers to the sport. Salford and Oldham aside "Manchester" is an expansion area so were City season ticket holders for instance offered ticket discounts like the Super League clubs? Anyway it was a success for me - as always it was as much about the banter and atmosphere outside the ground as in.

  • Comment number 12.

    I went on Sunday and had a fantastic time. I can't really understand more fans not wanting to come, but what seems true of rugby league events is that if the fans aren't bought into the concept they don't turn up, and RL needs the whole RL community to turn out to these events to fill big stadia - so the Challenge Cup final and increasingly the play off final sell out, but Magic and England games don't (latter because of decades of under performance). Hopefully that can improve.

    When I booked my ticket, I was told that more people were booking for 1 day only in Manchester, as opposed for both days in Cardiff or Edinburgh, as people. Luke get straight home easier. So given aggregate attendance pretty similar, seems fair to summise that more people did come for 1 day.

    Therefore, to get more people to come, why not put it closer to more fans, I.e have norh-west Magic on Sat in Manchester and Yorkshire Magic on Sunday, at say Elland Road. 3 games in each with fans watching their teams or their biggest rivals. Have Catalan play London somewhere slightly glitzy in France on the Friday. iChat to kick off the weekend with an international flavour.

    As well as even more local rivalry, maybe a marque game could be added to keep bums on seats after fans have watched their home team play? Something like a 'Charity Shield' with the League Leaders Shield winners playing the Play-Off winners from the previous season, or if same team then a repeat of the Grand Final - a chance for revenge. Play it as the last game on the Sat or Sun? With 5 teams from NW and 7 from Yorkshire, would have meant Leeds playing Warrington as the last game in Manc, and the 6 other Yorkshire teams playing following day in Leeds.

    And if we need still more to keep fans in their seats after their teams game, how about different colour beer cups during each game, and you get a free beer for the following game. I enjoyed a few on Sunday (albeit paid for) and could have squeezed in one more for the 2nd half of the Sts Wigan game instead of leaving.

    Just some ideas. I had a great time and encourage others to go in future

  • Comment number 13.

    I really enjoyed the Magic Weekend - I think ALL the games were shown on Astro (Eurosport) here in Malaysia.

    It does seem unfair, though, that the Magic Weekend fixtures are an 'extra'; it might make sense for the Magic Weekend fixtures to be selected from the regular 26 home and away games - giving each team a weekend off at some time during the season...

    Or the idea of the round of 16 from the Challenge Cup, which would give exposure for some Championship sides


  • Comment number 14.

    Echoing the previous sentiments here's hoping Adrian Purtell recovers soon and gets back to fitness.

    Re the magic weekend I'm still not convinced that a full on seven match schedule works. I love League but struggle to watch 3 games in a row nver mind 7 over two days. Would a re-hash of the 'on the road' concept not work where on one weekend we have seven matches played in non-traditional venues which we have a chance of filling? We could cover, the midlands Leicester, Northampton, Birmingham, the North East, Newcastle, the south London and surrounding areas and even take one up to Cumbria to help the game there.
    Locals could get discounted tickets to encourage attendance and we cover a wider section of potential new fans. The only fly in the ointment would be could Sky cover more than two locations in a weekend.

  • Comment number 15.

    I attended Magic Weekend, as an 'ex-pat' living in London. Friends and colleague who are Rugby Yawnion and football fans seemed intrigued (and a little jealous) that I had the opportunity to see 14 teams, 7 matches, 2 days, 1 stadium - and I think these arguments from fans that there are faults/problems/risks with the format are blind to the amazing possibilities that the RFL are opening up with Magic Weekend.

    If people choose to pay for a 1 day ticket then attend only their own fixture, so be it. Me and my buddy just switched seats during the day and enjoyed the company and banter of other clubs' fans while enjoying a great couple of days out. The RFL are laughing, because 60k+ ticket sales and revenue from Manchester to host, is putting money into Red Hall and the clubs. I don't see who's the loser here.

    Truth be told, some RL fans like nowt more than a reet whine and moan. Simple choice. Go, or don't go. I reckon the RFL will be pretty confident that the whiners' voices will be overpowered by the positive noises against virtually every other important measure of success for the event.

    That said - here's MY whinge - you could buy any piece of merchandise imaginable for the hauliers sponsoring the event. Could you buy anything relating to England RL, or, apart from a club shirt, any other League-related merchandise from the stadium? To borrow a soccer-related expression, 'massive own-goal' by the RFL!

    Bring on Magic Weekend 2013. See you there!

  • Comment number 16.

    As a cricket fan this isn't the only event of its type as twenty20 finals day is very similar. Depends whether it's supposed to be an exposure project or the best day of the year for normal fans. I would suggest a whole weekend is too long for most people to stay interested no matter how much they love the sport. Would doing all four cup quarter finals on the one day be a better format?

  • Comment number 17.

    Oops couple of typos there. Darn iPhone. Hope u get the gist

  • Comment number 18.

    To my mind the whole concept was born to cash in on the success of the Challenge Cup Final being held in Cardiff whilst Wembley was unavailable. Everyone I know who went to Cardiff for a CC final, or FA Cup final too, loves the place and would sooner go back there than Wembley. So for me Cardiff is the only place to hold it and I think it should be the first weekend of the season like last year and given time to develop. The RFL never seem to have any patience and appear to be constantly tweaking things before they have time to establish. After the close-season I think most fans would be ready for a big event like this to launch the new season, just don't pick the 6 Nations launch weekend like this year.

  • Comment number 19.

    One of my best mates went to the weekend, he said he didn't meet a single other fan that didn't already attend matches anyway. So if the aim was to take the game to a wider audience, it didn't work.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a sports fan in general, and I wasn't even aware that this so-called 'Magic Weekend' was happening.

  • Comment number 21.

    This was my first magic weekend and thought it was great. I went on both days and thought both of them felt like a final day. A lot of people came up to me and couldn't believe that every supporter from each club was getting on, this is a good selling point that RL has, even the police where impressed with the supporters. The only bad point I would like to point out is that some people on the street were coming up to me and asking about the event and saying "that must have cost a lot". Maybe next year the RFL should make more of a point of how cheap it is and how much cheaper it is for student as it is an area full of students.

  • Comment number 22.

    I was there for the weekend and as I live in east anglia it is one of the three RL events I get to go to a year (others being Challenge cup final and Grand final) and see the teams battle it out. Me and 5 friends had a fantastic time, enjoyed the atmosphere and entertainment on show.

    Shame the Wigan vs St. Helens game wasn't a closely fought contest as I think that would of been the highlight (Hull FC v Hull KR was my personal favourite of the weekend) and I agree that Warrington v Widnes was a game settled before the whistle blew so maybe a different match draw system would be better.

    I had hoped that it would of been busier being closer to the heartland of RL but either way I will be back next year for the fun of it all again

  • Comment number 23.

    i enjoyed it shock!!!!!

    yes i went on sunday and it was a very good day out and it is great value- best stadium so far, weather helped but thats not a deciding factor surely.

    Has to be given a 2nd turn at the Etihad -but if its going to be a permanent "fixture" - dont make it every year there- the novelty value will be gone after 2 or 3 - and somewhere like Bramall Lane might be an option( i know its smaller) .

    one thing for 2013 check the date and make sure the RFL avoid the Champions league final - i think its back to last sat in May and if Manchester city are in it at Wembley - well need i say more

  • Comment number 24.

    One of the most extraordinary things about RL (and I speak as someone who is fascinated by its penchant for victimhood, its disprespect for other sports (yawnion, kick and clap, rah-rah)), and its insistence that it is, absolutely, unambiguously, unarguably, the "greatest game" is its obsession with calling itself a "product"...

    Really? That's what you think of the sport you love? A product?

  • Comment number 25.

    Comments 10 and 11: Are you walking round the city with your eyes closed? There were posters all round town for at least a fortnight prior to the event. I can't understand any City fan saying they weren't aware of it - I'm both a City and RL fan and City season-ticket holders were emailed offering them a 15% discount to the event. It was featured on the City website as well.

  • Comment number 26.

    It was perfect, everyone got on, the game were great, Widnes will get better and give Warrington a game in future, Salford Vs Huddersfield was the best game on the weekend, it's got to be derbys, I wouldn't buy a ticket if I didn't know what the games were, having a draw on the Friday night is stupid. Keep the games the same.

  • Comment number 27.

    Well done George, you did your best to kick up a stink and find fault no matter what! The Magic Weekend is the way to go, should be in the heartland and, with slight tweaking, could be a world beater. The RFL would be wise to slash the costs until demand dictates. Yes it is good value in comparison, however, 94,000 capacity for the weekend would send out a powerful message that league is the way to go. Local derby's initially, fair enough, but league is at that stage now where any team can beat any rival on their day. And for Riley to post comments of such a dismissive nature regarding Widnes's chances is pretty poor. The Vikings are doing what is expected of them in that they are getting up to speed with Super League standards and, lest we forget, they have turned over Wigan this year! Does Riley really believe Widnes had no chance of beating Warrington? Did you foresee the Saints v Wigan performance? What about Salford doing Huddersfield!! League is reaping the rewards of the stability that no relegation, salary caps etc has brought. We need to kick on now and, if need be, have the Magic Weekend filling the biggest arenas, as cheap as possible, in the M62 corridor and, if possible, on terrestrial TV. This should be our State of Origin!! We could even add spice by getting all 14 team coaches pick a STAR squad of Brits from the weekend to take on the Aussies & Kiwis!! Come on Riley, get on board or move on BBC puppet!

  • Comment number 28.

    The rugby was mostly good, nowt wrong with passion spilling over into fisticuffs (why did LMS get away free?)!
    Away from the ground, nothing, where were all the pubs and retaurants full of fans between matches? Where did all the fans meet up at night... they didn't, they all went home...
    Cardiff was the only Magic venue worth visiting, ground in the right place and because the fans need to stay overnight, the banter and festival started on friday night and ended late Sunday night. A real festival of RL.

  • Comment number 29.

    The fans love it, the players love it, the clubs love it, SKY tv love it, the RFL make a profit from it. The only criticism is the fairness of match selections. Can't believe the amount of attempted negativity I've seen from the RL media about such a positive and profitable event.

    Next year start basing match ups on previous years SL table standings.

  • Comment number 30.

    All this "magic " weekend shows to me is how badly marketed etc the game is. Mind you the clubs don't help themselves either.

    Do they, and SLE /RFL actually KNOW to whom they are aiming this at.

    Thone true positive aspect is the game itself, it still leaves all other team sports trailing in its' wake

  • Comment number 31.

    Surely Magic is going to gt the best crowds when it is local derbies. So Warrington got an easier game than Sts or Wigan. So what? If SL was decided by final league standings, I agree that this would be an unfair advantage, but the play-offs give slightly disadvantaged teams a second chance, so I say stick with the derbies - with the Yorkshire ones in Yorkshire

  • Comment number 32.

    I thought that this year's Magic Weekend was brilliant. Never thought Salford would beat Huddersfield or that Saints would crumble against Wigan like they did.

    It was good this year for Salford City Reds, being so close to the City of Salford we didn't have to travel far to get there, only across the River Irwell and into the "other city".

    The fact it was in Manchester should have brought in bigger crowds though, not far for fans to travel and given the glorious weather too.

    I do think next years should be played at, say, Elland Road in Leeds. It only seems fair. Given that Leeds is also bigger than Manchester, based on population size, it might even attract bigger crowds.

  • Comment number 33.

    I spent a fantastic weekend watching all 7 games ..... and loved it! As for Warrington being 'given' two points - the only team that could've matched Warrington's display was possibly Wigan, and no doubt we'd now be hearing moans about St Helens playing Widnes! Personally I'd like to see match-ups based on last years league position ..... the idea of staging a round of the challenge cup would rely too much on the draw throwing up games worth watching!

    The Catalan & Leeds winning margins flattered the victors, and the Salford & KR victories were two of the best games seen anywhere this season.

    A lesson for all fans ..... it is no coincidence that the fans who spent their energy supporting, not chastising, their own teams (Warrington/Wigan), especially when they were behind in games (KR, Salford, & Leeds) went home having seen victories ..... the players do pick up on that support .... AND negativity (many Saints 'fans' should be ashamed of their reaction when Wigan took hold of the game).

    The RFL need only ask the bemused but smiling Etihad staff/Manchester police caught up in the spontaneous parties which erupted around the ground over the two days (without incident!) if they would like the magic weekend to return and I'm certain your answer will be a very rapid "Yes"

  • Comment number 34.

    Think the jury is still out on this (in answer to the blog question). The format of the event seems a bit artificial. Remember the "extra game" proposed by the football premier league a few years back? This was rightly jumped on. A so-called shock result in the Magic Weekend can't be regarded in the same way as a shock in the regular league or cup competitions. Folding it in as part of the cup is possibily the way to go.

  • Comment number 35.

    This was my 1st "magic weekend" & I loved EVERY minute of it.
    Day one was full of excitement (especially for a Hull KR fan) and superb rugby league, whilst day 2 had more of a "pace" to it to I felt.
    Best group of fans had to be Salford. They have a never say die attitude about them that seems to be rubbing off on the club, or is that the other way around?
    Either way, I'd happily book next week to go to the Etihad next year, but rather than shoehorn an extra set of fixtures, lets just make it a regular round of derby games please?
    Oh, and can someone bring a cash machine? Manchester City dont take plastic...unless your first name is Sheik.

  • Comment number 36.

    Went on Sunday and really enjoyed it. Shame about some of the mismatches, but you can't predict what will happen. Hudds v Salford could've been one, but wasn't. Wigan v Saints shouldn't have been but was. (And after the rant from someone last time, I’m not having a go at Salford just in case you think I might be. More places between them than Bradford v Leeds)

    As for attendance - these are extra matches to pay for on top of a season ticket and so all extra revenue. If you include it in a season ticket you'd get bigger crowds but maybe not more money (and we're not exactly flush at the minute as a nation).

    Like the idea of drawing lots to see who plays who - but would have to do it at least two weeks before?

  • Comment number 37.

    I live in NZ, so missed the event. Sounded fantastic, and so many games! How often do people get to attend neutral games too?
    As for the weekend in say Cardiff. With the economic situation, taking the game far away from most attendees' area may have been a poor decision in 2012. People are feeling the pinch. Sure, the downside was many went to just one day because it was closer to home. Bearing that in mind, the number of different people who went to the event would have been much greater than in Cardiff.
    Don't get me wrong, Cardiff should have a future with the event, but 2012 it was probably better to have it nearer the M62.

  • Comment number 38.

    When people compare the attendance of the MW to club matches, they don't really get the point. MW is a festival of rugby league where all fans can mix, watch some good rugby and have a great time. Almost all of the fans who are attend are also paying customers, not cheap season ticket holders like you'd find at club games. Therefore the amount of money coming into the RFL and clubs coffers is a big improvement on clug games.

    This is my second MW and I've loved them both. The atmosphere was awesome on Sunday, especially during the Leeds-Bradford game when the Saints-Wigan supporters entered the ground. Great banter between the Saints-Leeds supporters with everyone really enjoying the fine Manchester weather. Sadly for me, my club got stuffed in the last match, which was very depressing!

    The MW is great concept, it benefits the game and brings all the SL sides together to celebrate the game over a weekend. All you doubters, get to the event next year. You'll love it!

  • Comment number 39.

    Well I cant believe some of the negative views on here, this was the first time I went and I took my two young boys 8 and 9 who where wowed by the whole event. It was great seeing all the fans from different teams and the atmosphere in the ground even though it wasnt full was brilliant even the fans who didnt turn out in as many numbers for some teams made a heck of a noise which wouldnt happen at a regular match, everyone was just in a party mood and well done RFL for taking it to Manchester hope its there again as I will definatly go.

  • Comment number 40.

    A fantastic weekend of rugby league with everything you could wish for, great handling, solid defences, superb support and a bit of biff!!

    Loved the venue & the weather but let down yet again by the RFL!

    No MERCHANDISE of any team (except for a ball)! Can you think of any other sport where you can't buy products from the participants? (The same happens at Wembley & Old Trafford).

    Also the promotion of the weekend was almost none exsistant outside the RL media. How are we to encourage higher attendances if no one knows games are going on? THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE, what do the media people at Red Hall do?

    A suggestion (or 2) to improve the weekend, I would also like to see the top 2 teams in Championship play on the Saturday to allow 4 games each day. Then, I heard someone else suggest the complete round of the CC quarter finals to be held at Magic Weekend. (Sky wouldn't be happy, but could BBC manage all games). Something to think about!

    Magic will be even better when the tram line is open!

    Thanks to all the fans & teams who made it a MAGIC WEEKEND.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 You'd get no arguments from me about the lack of merchandising. Some RL clubs and the RFL need to get the act together when it comes to selling merchandise as it is poor at the moment.

    However, I will disagree regarding promotion of the weekend. If the non-RL media don't want to highlight that the weekend is taking place, there is NOTHING the RFL can do about it. Incidentally the RFL had a poster campaign around Manchester according to some people resident in the city. I saw one myself when going on Sunday. Some of the Stobart vehicles advertised the MW also having saw one myself. However, the real issue is the non-RL media, who are poor at supporting the game.

  • Comment number 42.

    fantastic choice of venue so nearly all the fans can get there I hope its here every year now also think the game's next year should be more even like:
    Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves
    Leeds Rhinos v St Helens
    Huddersfield Giants v Catalan Dragons
    Salford City Reds v Hull FC
    Hull KR v Bradford Bulls
    London Broncos v Castleford Tigers
    Widnes Vikings v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats

  • Comment number 43.

    Comment 28, it might just be me but I think LMS 'got away free' because his part in the fiasco seemed to be as Hock's punchbag! I hadn't realised getting yourself thumped over and over by an opposition 'player' (I wanted to use a stronger term but it would probably lead to my comment being removed) was now a disciplinary offence!

  • Comment number 44.

    The MW is fantastic. Sure it could be better and there are some great ideas in the comments. The obvious ones are:
    increase publicity but the media needs to help
    terrestial TV can help with a showcase of the previous years' MWs highlights some weeks pre the current year's event
    for sure sell RFL merchandise on the day, both for each club and a special souvenir item.

    I am torn between the "derby" matches idea and setting up games that roughly equate to 1 v 2, 3 v 4, etc. I am intrigued by the idea of a Manchester 3 gamer + Yorkshire 3 gamer + 1 in South England/North France. I like the idea of a Championship game to even up the games to 4 a day.


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