The 2023 Betfred Super League season was set to scale new heights over the Easter weekend, with all six matches of the Rivals Round and the opening match of the Betfred Women’s Super League season shown live on Sky Sports for the first time.
Two crowds of more than 20,000 were guaranteed well ahead of time, at the traditional Good Friday derbies in Wigan and Hull, and ticket sales suggested the Super League record aggregate attendance for a single round of 79,173 could be broken.
And it was with a huge 83,357 aggregate attendance over the weekend helped by nearly 21,000 fans for the Hull derby and 24,275 at Wigan in the biggest crowd there since 2005.
Catalans Dragons had their biggest crowd of the season at Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan for the meeting of the top two teams in the table on Saturday evening – helped by a travelling following of more than 500 Warrington Wolves supporters.
All of this, in the eyes of former Sky Sports commentator Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson, shows why IMG are making a huge mistake.
He believes these games and the fact they were all played on one weekend on Sky, similar to the premise of Magic Weekend, shows that IMG are making a grave error in getting rid of the event.
“Why do IMG want to get rid of the magic weekend because that’s just what we’ve had last weekend?” he asked on the Eddie and Stevo podcast in reference to the huge aggregate attendance.
“I’m sure IMG are working hard to make sure that our game will continue on for many many years, that’s their job. But it’s also their job to take notice about what the fans are doing, well they’ve turned up and said ‘this is what we want, more derbies!”