I was at the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday for the Rugby League Magic Weekend, the annual event that sees a full round of League fixtures played at the same ground.
The Magic Weekend has I suppose two aims: attracting new fans to the game by playing matches in a city without a rugby league team and also giving supporters the chance to spend the weekend together there. I'm not sure how well this year's event did on the former as most of the thirty thousand crowd were clearly there to support their team although I did see a few people wearing Manchester City shirts who had presumably bought the discounted tickets the club were offering to season ticket holders.
There are obvious benefits to the host city in terms of hotel rooms and, if the pub I went to after the game is anything to go by, increased alcohol sales. It also helped that Manchester was untypically sunny this weekend.
I'm not keen on the silly names now attached to rugby league teams and I can take or leave the US-style razzmatazz of cheerleaders and fireworks. The speed, skill and physical contact is what will attract new fans to the game and the Rugby Football League should take credit for giving them the opportunity to see it.