How about a Magic Nines, Dr Koukash?

There was something of a minor storm in the rugby league media last week when Marwan Koukash announced his intentions to launch a British franchise in the NRL.

While the idea is perhaps little bit silly, you have to admire the Salford owner’s sheer chutzpah in proposing it.

What perhaps would be a better idea for him to focus on, however, would be a British Nines tournament, along the lines of the Auckland Nines which took place last weekend.

The main issue with events like the Nines is to get players and clubs to take it seriously. Cash, in the form of prize money, is probably the best way of doing this.

Koukash, of course, has bucketloads of cash, and a genuine passion to see the game grow.

The Magic Weekend is a great concept, but it needs refining. It adds an extra fixture to the league programme, and is often unfair on clubs.

The Hull clubs, for example, know that they will be playing each other in a game which really matters. Contests like Widnes v Salford just do not have the same edge and intensity.

Replacing it with a Nines competition woiuld be a viable way of keeping Magic Weekend in the calendar and retaining the integrity of Super League’s competition.

Clubs and players would take it seriously if there was some big prize money on offer, courtesy of the good doctor.

It might even be possible to get the event onto free-to-air television, and help bring the sport to the national audience it once had, and so richly deserves.

One thing which might need to be different about a Nines tournament over here is its place in the season.

While the Auckland Nines is a preseason event, it takes place in lovely warm weather, and fans can enjoy all the action without having to worry about keeping warm.

Holding a similar event over here in February would not be as appealing to fans, and certainly not to the kind of casual sports fans we hope to attract to the game.

Who knows maybe Koukash could use his influence to invite the England rugby union sevens team to take part, in a bid to draw in more fans from outside the heartlands, and add a bit of cross-code spice.

After all, many years ago Wigan and Bradford won union’s Middlesex Sevens.

There is even the possibility of moving it somewhere to the south, where the weather is warmer, and I don’t mean London. Maybe somewhere in southern Spain could be a good venue.

One thing we do know about Dr Koukash is that his heart is in the right place. On BBC Radio 5Live this morning he said: “There’s only one rugby, and that’s rugby league.”

Anyone who expresses passionate sentiments like that is welcome in our game. Now he just needs to be pointed in the right direction.

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