ALTHOUGH 2015 is seen as a season of massive change for rugby league, organisers have, thankfully, not tinkered too much with its Magic Weekend format.
Therefore, with the fixtures now released for the concept’s first venture to Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, all the usual contests which have generally worked in the past have been kept intact.
The derby between Hull FC and Hull KR will take place on the Saturday tea-time slot on May 30 next year with a 4.45pm kick-off.
That precedes the climax of the opening day which pits, for the third year running, Leeds Rhinos against Wigan Warriors (7pm) in a game between two heavyweights which generally produces intrigue and action aplenty.
The event – with just six fixtures spread over the weekend instead of seven due to Super League being reduced to 12 teams in 2015 – kicks off with Salford Red Devils v Widnes Vikings (2.30pm).
On the Sunday, with Bradford Bulls relegated, Huddersfield Giants instead have a lunchtime kick-off (1pm) against Catalan Dragons, the side that eliminated the 2013 League Leaders Shield winners from this year’s play-offs.
For a fourth successive season, Castleford Tigers face derby rivals Wakefield Trinity Wildcats but, this time, their slot has been switched, meaning they will now bring the weekend to a close with a 5.30pm kick-off.
In between, champions St Helens take on Warrington Wolves in another derby (3.15pm).
Super League general manager Blake Solly said: “Magic Weekend is long established as one of the sport’s most popular events.
“From the uniformly positive feedback we have received since announcing that it was heading to St James’ Park, it’s clear that Magic Weekend 2015 will be very special indeed. As a top destination city with fantastic travel links and a wide range of accommodation options, Newcastle is an ideal venue for this unique sporting occasion.
“We have worked closely with all the clubs and our broadcast partner Sky Sports to produce a fixture schedule that will ensure that every minute of every match at Magic Weekend matters.”
Saturday May 30: Salford Red Devils v Widnes Vikings (2.30), Hull FC v Hull KR (4.45), Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors (7.00).
Sunday May 30: Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants (1.00), St Helens v Warrington Wolves (3.15), Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (5.30).