Those who have been up in the North East for Magic Weekend in the last few days will agree: keep it in the Toon!
A city known for a vibrant nightlife and many watering holes; a big train station with easy access to the stadium; and a venue which is, even for those most intoxicated among the rugby league revellers, minutes away from the city centre. Why, then, would the RFL look to move the event away from a venue which has just seen, across two days, over 68,000 people enter through the gates?
There are some who believe Magic Weekend as a vehicle to expand rugby league – it shouldn’t be and, in this writer’s opinion, it isn’t. It is a money making machine for the RFL with Newcastle bidding what is believed to be over a million pounds of the realm for the privilege this year. It should be to rugby league what Twenty20 finals day is to cricket; a carnival of the sport, an annual day (or weekend) away for rugby league fans. Should it be carted around to the likes of Coventry, as was speculated in 2017, or New York as has been the case recently with a view to taking the event to the States in 2019? No, it shouldn’t. Can you imagine how bad it would be to see a small venue half full of locals who don’t have a clue what’s going on? Half of the time people in this country don’t know what’s going on such is the inconsistency amongst officials; do the likes of Robert Hicks and James Child need the American stage? God, I hope not.
It seems to be the people who moan about Magic Weekend are those who don’t go and those who make it out to be a disaster for the sport are just plain wrong. While the decision of who plays who needs some looking at – the fact St Helens faced Widnes while the likes of Leeds faced Cas and Wigan played Warrington doesn’t seem quite right – the success of the event can’t be questioned.
And it must stay in Newcastle; make the city the home of Magic for the next few years at the very least.