Dave Craven: Non-appearances not a magical act when seeking publicity

Warrington Wolves' Chris Hill, left, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats' Danny Kirmond, centre, and Leeds Rhinos' Kevin Sinfield during the media launch of the 2015 Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).
Warrington Wolves' Chris Hill, left, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats' Danny Kirmond, centre, and Leeds Rhinos' Kevin Sinfield during the media launch of the 2015 Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).
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IT WILL be intriguing to see if, as predicted, Magic Weekend is the biggest and best yet.

Organisers are confident the event will break records over the next 48 hours on its first jaunt to Newcastle United, and hopefully they are proved correct.

If they are not, however, some of the Super League clubs themselves will have to be held responsible, at least in part.

There was a noticeable and worrying lack of head coaches and captains at the main 
St James’ Park press conference on Tuesday.

There are always good reasons for some not being in attendance, particularly with the logistical 
aspect for Catalans Dragons arriving from the south of France.

But half of Super League’s club chiefs were absent from the media briefing when the game had its one big chance to sell itself to Newcastle and beyond.

St Helens’ Keiron Cunningham, Wigan Warriors’ Shaun Wane, Warrington Wolves’ Tony Smith, Salford Red Devils’ Iestyn Harris, Hull FC’s Lee Radford and Catalans’ Laurent Frayssinous were all unavailable, which was far from an ideal start to the week.

Rugby league traditionally has a problem cementing column inches in the national papers at the best of times so this sort of action is tantamount to shooting 
itself in the foot.

This is no sleight on Ian Watson, Salford’s assistant coach who was sent in place of Harris, but few national editors would have taken much interest in his comments even if he offered to jump into the Tyne naked if the Red Devils do not beat Widnes.

Only six of the 12 captains made the trip north, but what made things worse still was the fact so many players who were put up for interviews are not actually going to be in action this weekend either.

Catalans prop Jeff Lima is suspended while the closest Hull’s Josh Bowden, Salford’s Tommy Lee and Wigan’s Tony Clubb will get to the St James’ Park turf was for some relatively pointless promotional shots on Tuesday.

Yorkshire’s contingent largely played ball with Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR, Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers all sending both their head coach and captain.

This meant the likes of Kevin Sinfield, Danny Brough and Terry Campese, genuine high-profile – or as high-profile as you can get in rugby league – players were on hand along with England internationals such as Jon Wilkin and Michael Shenton to spread the word not only via the waiting media contingent but to the 250 school children playing out on Newcastle United’s pristine pitch.

The event needs its big guns at times like this and it must be hoped the RFL punish those clubs that did not act accordingly if it is found there was no good reason for their non-appearance.

What they can actually do – fines perhaps? – is limited but there has to be some sort of action.

If not, those aforementioned big-name players could quite rightly query why they agreed to take time out of their schedules to promote the game, when their rivals can stay at home and rest up ahead of the weekend’s action.

Then, the next time such a media launch is held, for the Challenge Cup final or Grand Final, some of those stars who are so often free and generous with their time, might just think twice.

If that happens, the whole sport – not just the success of Magic Weekend – will be endangered; the players are the stars yet already they don’t get the profile they deserve so let’s try to stay clear of any further self-harming.