Jon Wilkin admits change of heart on ‘tragic weekend’

The 2023 Magic Weekend is underway in Newcastle and as fans flock to the North East, there is a fear it could be the last.

Started in 2007, the Magic Weekend concept has become a regular feature on the rugby league calendar but part of IMG’s overhauling of the sport here in the UK could see the event scrapped.

Speaking ahead of the opening game of this year’s event on Sky Sports, Jon Wilkin has revealed he has changed his mind about the event having initially labelled it ‘tragic weekend’.

“Yeah, I remember when it first was announced, I think we called it a tragic weekend,” he said. “I felt like it gave clubs that haven’t earned the right to play in a big stadium and play in a big game the opportunity to do so cheaply.

“And look, my thoughts have changed because it’s produced some magic moments for me.

“I’ve transitioned my thinking into recognising what a marvellous event it is, how it brings the community of our game together, what it brings to the economy of a city like Newcastle that is sports mad.

“And over time I’ve decided this is an exceptional weekend for the game of rugby league in this country.”

Questioned further by presenter Brian Carney on his comments that the weekend was a ‘cheap’ way for teams at the bottom of the league to play at a big stadium, Wilkin gave a firm response.

“Yeah, without doubt I’m happy for them to play at these events,” added the former Grand Final-winning St Helens star.

“It produces, when you’re in a big stadium like this, it stimulates a performance, both positive and negative.

“Somebody here, this is the beauty of Magic, a team here will perform like they’ve never performed all season.

“A team that’s been playing well will produce a shocking performance, the impact of a big stadium, a big atmosphere, we know well now that this weekend throws up drama and crazy results.”