LEEDS RHINOS and Castleford Tigers will go head-to-head when they bring the curtain down on Betfred Super League’s 11th Magic Weekend next year, which will again be held in Newcastle.
The fixtures have been changed completely from 2016, partly forced by the relegation of Hull KR which robbed the event of the popular Hull derby.
The two-day event will kick off on Saturday afternoon when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats face Widnes Vikings. That will be followed by Hull FC’ facing St Helens in a clash of this year’s beaten semi-finalists which will precede the Grand Final repeat between Wigan and Warrington on day one.
Promoted Leigh will make their debut when they take on Salford the following day, after Huddersfield Giants take on Catalans Dragons. Leeds and Castleford will then face off against each other in the final match of the weekend.
Organisers have confirmed the annual two-day extravaganza, in which all 12 Super League clubs play on the same pitch in a little over 24 hours, will return to St James’ Park on Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, after it drew a record aggregate crowd of 68,276 in 2016.
Newcastle, which also hosted the event in 2015, are thought to have got the nod ahead of Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, which was the venue from 2012-14, and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, which will host a Four Nations double-header next month.
Super League general manager Mark Foster said: “We are delighted to be bringing the Dacia Magic Weekend back to Newcastle for the third successive year.
“The city has made us feel incredibly welcome and we know that our fans love visiting the North East not just to witness a whole round of the Betfred Super League but also to take in everything else that this wonderful city and surrounding area has to offer.”
The Magic Weekend has enjoyed steady growth since it began at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2007 and it is estimated that the 2016 event was worth more than £4million to the local economy in the North East.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Councillor Nick Forbes, said: “I’m delighted by this hat-trick for Newcastle. Hosting the Magic Weekend for the third year in a row is a chance to show the nation once again all that our vibrant city centre and warm Geordie welcome have to offer.
“Newcastle is gaining a stronger and stronger reputation for hosting major sporting and cultural events. This is all part of our plan to make Newcastle the Great North City, and we know that tournaments such as this attract visitors who want to come back time and again. “The Magic Weekend is also brilliant for promoting grassroots sports and as in previous years there will be a lot of ways for fans of all ages and abilities to join in the celebrations.”
Meanwhile, Hull KR face a tough challenge on their Summer Bash debut after they were paired with former Super League rivals Bradford.
Rovers will play in the Kingstone Press Championship in 2017 after they were relegated from Super League in dramatic fashion in the Million Pound Game.
Hull KR’s match against Bradford headlines the event, which will return to Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road for a third year over the spring bank holiday weekend.
The League 1 Cup final will kick off an action-packed opening day, while Toulouse will make their first appearance when they take on Halifax on the Sunday.
Fixtures for the Summer Bash, Saturday, May 28: 12pm – League 1 Cup final; 2.30pm – Oldham v Rochdale Hornets; 4.45pm – Featherstone Rovers v London Broncos; 7pm – Bradford Bulls v Hull KR.
Sunday, May 29: 12.35pm – Swinton Lions v Sheffield Eagles; 3pm – Toulouse Olympique v Halifax; 5.15pm – Dewsbury Rams v Batley Bulldogs.