St Helens kicked off another successful Dacia Magic Weekend in Newcastle as 64,319 fans packed into St James’ Park to witness six Betfred Super League games and a top of the table clash in the Betfred Championship.
Newcastle once again proved a popular choice as thousands of fans enjoyed soaring temperatures and some fantastic games over two days. The city now has four of the five biggest attendances in Magic Weekend history.
Saturday began with a top of the table clash in the Betfred Championship as Toronto Wolfpack beat Toulouse Olympique XIII before Super League table toppers St Helens continued their winning run of form with a 38–18 win over Widnes Vikings.
Steve Price’s Warrington Wolves then lost to Wigan Warriors who are undefeated at Magic Weekend under Shaun Wane. Despite the defeat, Steve Price was positive about the event and his first Magic Weekend experience, he said: “Magic Weekend is a fantastic concept. Hopefully we can keep it here, the crowd was bouncing out there and it is a great stadium to play Rugby League in.”
38,881 people attended on Saturday and in the final game of the day were treated to a Castleford Tigers masterclass as they ran out 38-10 winners over 2017 Betfred Super League champions and local rivals, Leeds Rhinos.
Interim Chief Executive Officer of The Rugby Football League, Ralph Rimmer, said: “The Dacia Magic Weekend 2018 has been an incredible success and the fact that Newcastle has once again attracted such a large crowd, in its fourth year as host, is credit to the people of this fantastic city.
“This weekend is one of the most innovative in sport and we have seen it become increasingly successful since it was first held eleven years ago. We now have interest from multiple cities around the world, a strong and supportive commercial partner in Dacia and we are now starting to regularly see large crowds across the two days.
“Being at this magnificent event and witnessing everyone having such a good time is great to see. I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping to make it possible - Newcastle City Council, NE1, Newcastle United and of course the thousands of fans for helping to create such a fantastic atmosphere.”
25,438 fans came to the stadium on Sunday and the crowd started the day by witnessing a closely fought encounter between Catalans Dragons and Salford Red Devils, with Steve McNamara’s team winning the game 26-12. Arguably the match of the weekend followed, as Huddersfield Giants held on to win against Wakefield Trinity by just three points before Hull FC, who’s fans have enjoyed success against their local rivals three times in four years at Newcastle.
Stephen Patterson, Director of Communications, NE1 Ltd, said: “What a weekend! Another fantastic sporting event and another outstanding attendance for this year’s Dacia Magic Weekend here at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
“It is no coincidence that four of the top attendance figures for Magic have all been in Newcastle, the combination of Magic’s carnival style atmosphere off the pitch, fast paced rugby action on it, all within a world class venue in the heart of Newcastle city centre, deliver a winning formula.
“The Rugby League fans are an absolute credit to the sport and make Magic Weekend what it is, it is lovely to welcome them here to Newcastle for such a crowd pleasing event. Magic Weekend delivers a huge boost to the local economy and attracts thousands of supporters from outside the area who come to enjoy the rugby and all that Newcastle has to offer.
“We look forward to discussing the potential to host further events in Newcastle with the Rugby Football League. It’s been great having them and we would love to welcome them, and their fans, back to the city.”
Coun Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health for Newcastle City Council, said: “The Super League fans created an electric, carnival atmosphere around the city centre in glorious sunshine, proving why Newcastle is the perfect location for this prestigious sporting occasion. An event the city has now hosted for the fourth consecutive year.
“Staging an event like Magic Weekend is fantastic for the local economy as the flood of visitors and sports fans provides a healthy return for local businesses and the NewcastleGateshead tourism industry. It also means that thousands of people got to experience our Northern hospitality and hundreds of thousands of sports fans watched the showcase worldwide on the television. 2018 is a year where the eyes and ears of the world will be focused on the region for the Great Exhibition of the North showing our innovation, creative, artistic and sporting prowess so the success of Magic Weekend is a wonderful platform to build upon.”
The Dacia Magic Weekend has taken place at Newcastle for four years and has previously taken place at Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester. A decision on the venue for Magic Weekend 2019 will be made following a routine review of the event last year.