Why next years Magic Round can be truly magical

Following in the footsteps of the English Super League, the NRL have announced next season a Magic Round. Here's why the magic will be coming back into the game.


Since 2007 the ESL have hosted a magic weekend every season. This is where every single team in the competition plays their games all at one venue for a round. It’s worked a great success for them as over a two-day period this year they drew in a total of 64, 319 people. And following in their footsteps, the NRL announced not too long ago that they too would be hosting a similar event for next season. CEO Todd Greenberg called it “unique” and “wonderful” and he is completely on the ball with this one. Here is why eight NRL competition games to be played over three days in Rugby League heartland in Brisbane, QLD will be such an amazing thing to behold.

Crowd numbers

The average attendance at an NRL game this year has been 15,455 people walking through the gates. Not bad, yet not exceptional either. And while that number, looking at it directly, would count as a pass mark, these do not. Two rounds ago at ANZ Stadium only just over 8000 people turned up to watch South Sydney blitz Parramatta, 42-24. While playing at Belmore last round the Bulldogs suffered a disappointing, large defeat to the Gold Coast in front of only 6,874 spectators. 

In addition to those two matches, in Round 15 when two of the competitions heavyweights faced off in the form of Sydney and Penrith, only 10,078 people turned up to watch it at Allianz Stadium. One key takeaway from this is that two of Sydney’s biggest Rugby League stadiums this campaign has generally speaking struggled to attract large crowds. However, up at Suncorp Stadium the home of the new Magic Round and the Brisbane Broncos, they generally attract crowds in the 20, 25,000+ region, sometimes even more than that. So if that’s not enough incentive to play one entire round at Suncorp, then adding this on should definitely convince you of its worthy merits. 

Not only do Brisbane fans love their strong dose of NRL and would more than likely turn up in numbers for each day the games are on, even when Brisbane aren’t playing, every other club will have supporters turning up as well. While with ‘supposedly’ cheap ticket prices and plenty of notice in a venue that has a roughly 52,000 person capacity, there’s no reason why they can’t attract 40,000+ to each and every day this magnificent event is being held.

Profitability

It’s well known that clubs such as Manly and the Tigers move games away from their home-bases each year due to financial reasons. While the Gold Coast are another club that have had well-documented financial struggles within playing in the National Rugby League. 

Clubs like these, the smaller, more money-poor clubs would benefit greatly from being a part of the Magic Round, more so than their opposition. While every club would take a great deal from participating in this event, the allure of a guaranteed payment is such a plus to them playing in it. For sides that get in low crowds for some matches, what they pull in financially through the gate can be quite simply put bad at times. But with this, they would know what they would be getting and a healthy sum at that. While for other clubs like Canterbury this would be an obvious benefit as well. 

One report had collectively $53.7 million was lost by the 16 competition sides in 2017. So again a massive payment for each and every side is most definitely a benefit to being in the Magic Round.

The on-field brilliance

Eight games across three days featuring the best players in the game in the likes of Cameron Smith, Shaun Johnson, Nathan Cleary and Boyd Cordner among others, who could not like it? While what they should produce on the field will be absolutely brilliant. This will be similar to the Auckland 9’s, something that was well-received by some fans, except for this time they are competing for actual competition points in front of what should be strong crowds.  

If Cameron Smith is fit and firing what fan wouldn’t want to turn up and see him attempt to lead his Melbourne side to a victory. Or maybe Johnathan Thurston shows up at Suncorp and puts on a real show given he no longer represents the Maroons, one of the main tenants of Suncorp Stadium. Manly beat Brisbane up their earlier this year 38-24 in what was a real upset, seeing 10 tries get scored in total. So maybe we’ll see more of that? Who knows? But regardless of who plays who and what players are in it and who are injured, it still ought to be one hell of an event!!!

Past history

Major events in the NRL have gone down fairly well recently. Injuries aside, the Auckland 9’s offered strong winning incentives for all the teams playing and a great spectacle for the fans. While for State of Origin this year in Melbourne the Blues turned on an absolute clinic in front of what turned out to be a fairly healthy crowd after ticket sales faltered badly initially. Every Grand Final in recent memory has had an electric atmosphere to it, while the exclusive caps given to everybody who turned up to last year’s one was a nice touch. 

The NRL’s current administration has admittedly had their fair share of failures. This includes everything from how they handled the Todd Carney incident to dealing with Manly’s Salary Cap Saga. However, they seem to have gotten this one completely right and as a fan, it should be a great ride to be on.

In conclusion, Todd Greenberg seems to be like Willy Wonka here, he’s giving the fans exactly what they want and not holding back from it. While the real winners are the spectators and fans, eight games over three days in one place, what more could we possibly ask for? This is no doubt going to be fun and should be very magical for the game. 

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Toby Canning

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