Newcastle Thunder invited to kick off Magic Weekend at St James' Park

St Helens taking on Warrington at a previous Magic Weekend in Newcastle
St Helens taking on Warrington at a previous Magic Weekend in Newcastle

The Betfred Super League has invited League 1 side Newcastle Thunder to kick off the Daca Magic Weekend at St James' Park, adding a distinctly local flavour to the showcase event.

Six top-flight fixtures, spread across Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24, will follow Thunder’s curtain-raiser against Doncaster, which kicks off at 12.30pm.

Castleford Tigers v Catalans Dragons (3pm), St Helens v Salford Red Devils (5.15pm) and Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC (7.30pm) will make up Saturday’s matches.

That is then followed on Sunday by Huddersfield Giants v Toronto Wolfpack (12.30pm), Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves (2.45pm) and Wakefield Trinity vs Hull Kingston Rovers (5pm).

Newcastle Thunder chairman Mick Hogan said: "Having the Dacia Magic Weekend returning to Newcastle is great news in itself for the sport in the north east.

"Major events like this provide a huge boost to the continued community development growth that is happening across the region."

Mr Hogan added: “It is an incredible bonus for Newcastle Thunder to be able to open the weekend by playing at such an amazing venue, and there is a tremendous amount of excitement around the club.

''It is great for us to be able to showcase Newcastle Thunder on such a major national stage when fans of all the Super League clubs will be in the city, and just goes to further heighten the excitement surrounding the 2020 season.”

Super League responded to fans' criticism over the choice of Anfield for the Magic Weekend venue in 2019 by taking the event back to the north east and chief commercial officer Rhodri Jones says ticket sales are already 25 per cent up on last year.