NRL Tips – Round 10, 2019 (Magic Round edition)

Magic Round was fun. Do rugby league teams remember fun? I’m not sure all of them do. The ones that attended Magic Round definitely couldn’t avoid it. But don’t take my word for it, let’s hear what the fans had to say:

On the experience

I didn’t go super hard (attending seven games on three days was exhausting enough) but I still had a great time. There aren’t too many game day experiences – Origin probably, maybe the grand final? – in Australian rugby league that would match it. Caxton Street offers a great game day precinct that is easily accessible from the stadium, which itself is easily accessible from the CBD and surrounds. Brisbane City Council does a great job with getting people to and from the stadium, considering the numbers and the infrastructure available.

There were a lot of nice touches:

  • Doing nods to both teams home game traditions, including playing the team song after the win
  • The DJ playing bangers between plays
  • The bands (and I say this as a fan of The Preatures) were not great but a step up from the usual crowd participation garbage that stadiums do at half time so at least we didn’t have to sit through Kiss Cam on Mother’s Day
  • The Magic Garden was fine but expensive and probably should be expanded around to the Milton Road side of the stadium

I would caution against piping in crowd noise, which seemed to be tacked onto some of the sound bites used, but I wonder if this is something that’s been inherited from the clubs.

The bonus is that Magic Round introduced a lot of out-of-towners to a similar, albeit better and more diverse, experience to a Broncos home game on derby day. There’s a lot more people, a lot more atmosphere and a lot more convenience than the standard Sydney game. Hopefully showing Sydneysiders a good time helps un-Sydney-centric-ise the game.

On the attendances

(FWIW, I estimated similar numbers before Magic Round)

On injuries and the playing surface

Yes, the playing surface was a bit sandy and there was one-SCG sized divot on the 10m line but the field was fine, especially considering there was eight games in four days.

#JerseyBingo

For massive rugby league nerds, like me, #JerseyBingo is the shit.

I think I’ll come up for a scoring system for next year’s Magic Round.

On the future

Magic Round will likely be in Brisbane and definitely in Queensland for the next two years. I could see the state government maybe moving it to Townsville for the new stadium but Townsville is probably too far from Sydney (and Brisbane) and too small to host thirty or forty thousand people descending on the city for a weekend.

Same issues would apply to Newcastle, so NSWers can stash any dreams of it coming to your state because I hope the NRL isn’t stupid enough to take it to Sydney and Wollongong is too small. In reality, it won’t work anywhere much smaller than the Gold Coast so you can scrap the idea of it going to a regional area. One regional game per round is the most broadcasters are willing to deal with and they have the most sway, so that’s the way it’s going to be.

The thing is that Magic Round is new and normal people in Brisbane probably didn’t know what to expect. There’s plenty of room for it to grow into an enormous event (aim: 150k over three days) based on word of mouth and traditional publicity hype and really take over Brisbane for a week. Ideally, Magic Round will be a week earlier for the Labour Day long weekend but if it does fall on Mother’s Day again, then take your mum on Sunday. I did, she had fun. Remember fun?

If the Queensland government doesn’t renew their deal beyond 2021, then expect Magic Round to head to Perth, Adelaide or Auckland in the future and further afield after that. The NRL will continue to follow the money, so I think Baku is more likely than Vegas but we’ll see.

Conclusion

In summary, as I said last week, if you’re having a whinge about Magic Round, maybe just shut the fuck up.

Or just come up and see for yourself.

Embed from Getty Images

Here are the tips for this weekend’s action:

National Rugby League

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Intrust Super Cup

Hey, Queensland won something! Nice. Technically, two wins if the U18 Tweed Heads victory in the national championship counts, which it doesn’t because Tweed Heads is the wrong side of an arbitrary line. Anyway, with a lot of the absolutely best Intrust Super Cup players either unavailable or unfathomably not selected, that gives me some hope that the NRL State Championship might return to Queensland for the first time since 2015.

The QRL and NSWRL might want to consider rescheduling this so it’s not against Magic Round or, alternatively, moving it to New South Wales if it has to be that weekend.

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