Rugby League

Super League returns to Newcastle for another Magic Weekend

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Super League will return to Newcastle for the 10th Magic Weekend but with an amended fixture format.

St James' Park was chosen to host the annual round of league fixtures "on the road" last May because Manchester's Etihad Stadium was unavailable due to construction work but it proved a popular decision, with a record aggregate crowd of 67,788 watching the two-day spectacular and delivering an estimated ?4.2million boost to the local economy.

Manchester were thought to be keen to regain the event after successfully hosting it for three years in a row up to this year but organisers confirmed on Friday that it will be back in Newcastle on Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22.

Cardiff and Edinburgh have also hosted the Magic Weekend, which was introduced in 2007 to showcase Super League away from the game's traditional heartland.

Super League general manager Blake Solly said: "We're delighted that Magic Weekend will be staged at Newcastle's St James' Park in 2016.

"Magic Weekend this year was a huge success. We had a record attendance for the weekend and it contained some incredible moments that will live long in the memory.

"I would like to thank everyone in Newcastle for their support with the event and hopefully we can build on the brilliant success of 2015."

There will be just two derby fixtures this time but organisers have retained the blockbusting clash between Leeds and Wigan, a repeat of the 2015 Grand Final, to bring down the curtain on day one.

Treble-winning Leeds coach Brian McDermott said: "Magic Weekend is a brilliant event and it's great that it's going to be in Newcastle again.

"It's a fantastic stadium and there were lots of fans there this year which created a memorable atmosphere. I am particularly pleased for everyone involved in rugby league in the north east.

"I know from personal experience how hard they have worked down the years to promote our game and it is fitting that they get their reward with another Magic Weekend after the success of last year's event. Hopefully it will be even better next year."

Salford and Widnes will kick off the weekend at 2.30pm on the Saturday, followed by a clash between Castleford and Warrington.

Day two begins with Catalans Dragons against Wakefield at 1pm, followed by Huddersfield facing St Helens while Magic Weekend climaxes with the Hull derby.

Lee Charnley, managing director of Newcastle United, said: "Magic Weekend was, without doubt, one of the best events we have ever hosted here at St James' Park.

"Ever since the event in May, we have been working hard together with the City Council and NE1 Ltd to attract the Super League back to Newcastle once again.

"We are delighted with today's announcement and look forward to hosting an even more successful Magic Weekend next year."

Meanwhile, the Kingstone Press Championship will return to Blackpool for their Magic equivalent, the Summer Bash, over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with the clash between last season's big two Leigh and Bradford providing the highlight.

The action will get under way at noon on Saturday, May 28, with the League 1 Cup final, followed by Sheffield Eagles v London Broncos, Workington v Whitehaven and Bradford v Leigh.

The following day's derby fixtures are: Dewsbury v Batley, Oldham v Swinton and Halifax v Featherstone.

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