Magic Weekend: An illusion or Pure Magic?
This weekend was witness to several sporting events. England's first pre-Euros victory versus Norway, Huddersfield Town gaining promotion to the Championship, Mark Webber becoming the 6th different Formula 1 race winner in 6 races, Sergio Pizzorno lobbing Seaman, not to mention Union's Premiership final between Leicester and Harlequins.
And then there was Rugby League's chance to impress with the Manchester Magic Weekend. All this sporting action definitely whet the appetite of fans. Although it has to be asked of the weekend, was it worth it on this weekend where the competition for TV figures was rather fierce. Throughout the entire weekend Magic Weekend was bumped down to Sky Sports 3 for its entire duration. Another point was that Soccer Aid had more people in attendance in the same city for a match between several retired footballer and celebrities, so it begs the question whether the spectacle is worth it for fans.
With all the talk of expansion and what not, there were complaints about the weekend being in the Heartlands, however because of this I felt that the RFL had finally cracked what the weekend should be. The pricing was affordable, and most importantly, with The Etihad being on the infamous M62, I felt that the concept actually worked as more fans are able to get to the ground, unlike in the past with empty stadia such as Murrayfield and to a degree Cardiff. The sport for decades has been seen as "The M62 Sport" given that most professional teams are on the motorway, so I feel it was about time they put the fixture around the Heartlands to test the waters and see if it lives up to the potential it always wanted to deliver.
Another bonus was that the majority of the matches were strong and added to the spectacle that was definitely a Magic Weekend. I feel that, as sometimes a pessimist, the RFL deserve to pat themselves on the back as the formula for this recipe was rather exquisite. The sun beaming down on the impressive Stadium, the atmosphere on game two mirroring the weekend, and the quality of some of the matches put a smile on this pessimist’s face. Deciding which match was the best game of the weekend was rather difficult, although the spectacle that was Hull and Hull KR was absolutely astonishing, whilst Huddersfield and Salford was the real surprise package of the weekend. Both matches being settled in the dying minutes was an absolute delight to watch as a fan of open and exciting Rugby League.
As far as being a couch potato was concerned as well, I enjoyed the first day having lengthy breaks, and that these breaks were broken up with some absolutely astounding shows. I found the Arthur Beetson interview extremely interesting, and that Brian Carney is definitely a top quality interviewer, as well as seeing one of my favourite online shows Super League Back Chat.
However, I can see the argument for fan boredom. Experiencing the Wembley Double Header last year, where fans were stuck in the stadium I can see why fans get rather bored waiting around for hours with nothing really to do, and with the price of food and drink in the Stadium as well. I read that the back to back to back to back games went well on the Sunday, however having this tactic can be dangerous given four games equates to around 6 hours of rugby and that could potentially lead to the fans being burnt out.
The pessimist inside of me also wants to make a few small complaints, or points to consider rather. The first is that, depending on the calendar of that year, it may be beneficial to move the weekend to a bank holiday, this gives people the extra day and could bring in more people, especially families that don't have to worry about school scheduling and so on.
Another would be to actually see what other events are on, as mentioned there was plenty of competition at all points of the weekend that may have threatened Television viewers. As well as Soccer Aid attracting a huge audience in the same city, potentially getting people in attendance that may have wanted to see the rugby as well. Finally, and I am by no means the first person to suggest this, but this weekend should be a stand alone fixture much like the Challenge Cup is. This means that the amateur and semi professional players, and of course fans of these teams, will be able to travel over and enjoy the weekend as well, bringing in more revenue and potentially nearing the Stadium capacity, which would be truly magical.
Fan Article, Written By: Sean Freer
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