Barwick delighted by his long Good Friday
For many it is deemed to be the ultimate Rugby League ‘fix’ – seven First Utility Super League matches, 560 minutes of high drama, all in one venue across two memorable days.
But whilst Magic Weekend may be the definitive Rugby League feast for the die-hard fan, the event at Etihad Stadium on May 17 and 18 is proving to be a mere appetiser for RFL Chairman Brian Barwick, who warmed up for the Super League spectacular in style with four matches in 24 hours into Good Friday.
First up was London Broncos v Catalan Dragons at The Hive in Barnet on Thursday evening before an early morning train to Leigh Sports Village for the Kingstone Press Championship battle between Leigh Centurions and Swinton Lions in front of a 2,000-plus crowd.
From there it was across to The Halliwell Jones to take in Warrington Wolves’ comprehensive win against Widnes Vikings and then on to the AJ Bell Stadium for Salford City Reds versus Huddersfield Giants.
After four high quality and entertaining Rugby League matches, Barwick admitted to being both invigorated and impressed by all he had seen.
“The skill, the fitness and the sheer athleticism of our players never ceases to amaze me and today has served to underline what a great sport this is,” said Barwick.
“That I was able to take in four matches, and meet so many personalities and Rugby League fans in the process, speaks volumes for the flexibility of the fixture schedule: it was a very busy 24 hours but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.
“It was the perfect way to spend an Easter Friday. The atmosphere at all four stadiums was terrific, as was the high quality of the action on the field, and some bumper crowds witnessed some extraordinary exploits.
“What’s even better is that fans get to do it all again on Bank Holiday Monday, with another full round of First Utility Super League games.
“And in just four weeks’ time the sport is serving up another feast of Rugby League with Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium. From what I’ve seen today, it’s little surprise that ticket sales are 60 per cent up on where we were at a year ago.
“There really never has been a better time to be a Rugby League supporter.”
The seven First Utility Super League Round 9 matches were watched by over 60,000 fans, including a full house of 17,980 for St Helens v Wigan Warriors dery at Langtree Park and a near-capacity crowd for the Hull derby, Hull Kingston Rovers v Hull FC at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
The First Utility Super League fixtures on Bank Holiday Monday are as follows:
3.00 - Huddersfield Giants v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
3.00 - Hull FC v London Broncos
3.00 - Leeds Rhinos v Salford Red Devils
3.00 - Widnes Vikings v St Helens
3.00 - Wigan Warriors v Bradford Bulls
3.30 - Castleford Tigers v Warrington Wolves
6.00 - Catalan Dragons v Hull KR (Sky Sports)
The Magic Weekend 2014 schedule in full is as follows:
Saturday May 17
12.30 - London Broncos v Catalan Dragons
2.45 - Widnes Vikings v Salford Red Devils
5.00 - Hull Kingston Rovers v Hull FC
7.15 - Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos
Sunday May 18
12.30 - Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Castleford Tigers
2.45 - Huddersfield Giants v Bradford Bulls
5.00 - Warrington Wolves v St Helens
Tickets for Magic Weekend 2014 cost from just £25 for the day (£12.50 concessions) and £40 for the weekend (£20 concessions) and can be purchased by calling 0844 856 1113 or visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk