Murrayfield Magic: Part One

James Graham stated this week that he thought the upcoming Magic weekend should be scrapped because “a lot of players aren’t too fussed with it.”

Well, the point of it was fairly simple at first: to try and generate interest in Wales so that Celtic Crusaders could build up their fanbase and be fast-tracked into Super League.

But in a way Graham is right with his thoughts: “I can understand that the RFL want to promote the game in new areas, but I’m not sure whether this will really do that.

“In Wales [for last year’s Millennium Magic event in Cardiff], there were so few locals there. It was just the usual fans from the North of England. Times are hard for a lot of people and expecting so many to travel for just another league game, which is televised anyway, isn’t realistic.”

I can understand why the RFL want to produce such a show-piece event for all clubs to participate in, after all it creates a big game event for the smaller clubs who struggle to get to major finals.

But they have to take into consideration that people are now suffering financially due to the economic climate and realise that trips to London, Wales, France and now Scotland are going to be a massive thorn in attendances.

And in a way I think they recognised this with the addition of vouchers to the booklets; or maybe that was just a way of saying ‘we really do not want this to fail again’ – because really, both of the last two have really missed the whole point of increasing interest in Wales – and trying to get more people to go.

Another factor that could possibly make this fail badly is the fact that all seven games are televised. You miss out on the atmosphere, but you get to see all the games at little or no cost at all, and I just wonder how many fans will be doing that. I think the sales figures say it all when Leeds, one of the best supported sides can only shift 2,500 tickets.

It is good that Scotland have welcomed it with such open arms, and that the public have responded well by buying 4,000 tickets. That demonstrates to me that a Scottish team could probably do well up there.

Edinburgh Eagles are already a side in progress, and I believe that with good financial backing they could be in Super League for 2015. But I think the one off event was a good idea. One annually is going to get boring quickly, and it would be better holding it in our own back yard at Old Trafford – even though it defies the principle – if we are going to do some event like this. Sir Alex might not like that though.

It is an issue now that has really got the forums buzzing. Internationally, if we removed this weekend and gave the players an extra week off at the end of the season, would that not better prepare them for tournaments? After all, the RFL said that player bonding time was important within their seven points for development in future.

Are you off to the Magic Weekend? What do you think of it? Do you agree with Graham’s comments? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

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