Special kits? They’re not that marvellous

Why I’m not marvelling at Magic Weekend

Call me miserable, but I’m not a fan of the “special” kit habit that’s taken over Magic Weekend.

ISC’s Marvel shirts – simply rebadged versions of the NRL ones from a few years ago – will be worn by five of the 12 clubs at St James’ Park this weekend, while Salford, St Helens and Widnes will wear charity shirts for State of Mind, Autism Support and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation respectively.

Castleford, Huddersfield and Leigh will also wear one-off strips – with only Wigan playing in their traditional cherry and white home strip.

This is not a complaint at charity kits. Rugby league should be proud of its contribution to charity, and in essence, there should be a dedicated round elsewhere in the calendar for these one-off strips.

What the Magic Weekend should be about is promoting rugby league – which is surely what the purpose of it was slated as when it started now 11 years ago?

This is a window of opportunity for clubs and the sport to attract casual fans off the back of the supposed increase of media coverage around a big event.

Instead, clubs have given up their opportunity to promote their identity and heritage in place of a cheap, gimmicky kit to earn a few quid.

Where next for Magic?

It’s the third year the event has been taken to Newcastle, and this year is expected to attract the lowest attendance in the north east.

That will surely mean it moves elsewhere next year and such is the profile of the event, that a number of cities will be interested in taking it.

Despite being a long-term critic of the Magic Weekend in terms of competition integrity, it would be unfair of me not to praise the RFL for what they’ve managed to do in terms of creating a third big event in the rugby league calendar.

Challenge Cup final on the move?

That said, it worries me to read stories about moving the Challenge Cup final away from Wembley.

Roger Draper’s comments that Magic Weekend has now overtaken the Challenge Cup are astounding, and in my opinion an insult to the history and tradition of the competition.

My hopes are that his comments have simply been made to stir up media interest and generate debate around both events, to either try and increase commercial interest or big-up the Magic Weekend to get more coverage.

Clearly, the Challenge Cup final needs to be moved away from the August bank holiday weekend as it is now too close to the business end of the season – that now has the Grand Final, Million Pound Game and play-offs to contend with.

The presence of Magic Weekend should not impact on what happens with the Challenge Cup.

As a sport, rugby league needs to create more big days – but not at the expense of others. The Grand Final, for instance, already takes away from the end of season run-in and the excitement that the league champions finishing top would bring.

The only argument against bringing the cup final forward is the clash with Magic Weekend – and this is an issue that needs addressing.

Could Magic be played a bit earlier in the season? Or could even the cup final be accommodated in May with a real summer event in June/July for Magic?

Let us know your opinions in the comments box below.

3 Comments

  1. Challenge cup to stay at Wembley
    Magic must be in Manchester but not earlier in the year as it’s too much to expect fans to stay in a stadium all day in the cold. May is perfect so maybe moving the CC final is the better option imho.

  2. I’m from Newcastle so would love it to stay here, but frankly the advertising and promotion of the event locally is appalling

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