Super League Chief Executive Nigel Wood is predicting that a World Cup year will provide the catalyst for the greatest Super League season of all in 2013.
The fixture list for the eagerly-anticipated 2013 Super League season was published today and Wood believes the competition is well-placed to scale new heights in a year which climaxes with the Rugby League World Cup.
Other highlights of 2013 include a full round of Super League matches over Magic Weekend at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium and the return of 'Extraordinary Mondays' with nine rounds of live Super League Monday night action on Sky Sports.
Wood said: "Super League continued to build in stature in 2012 with record attendances and viewing figures and I am sure this exciting and action-packed fixture schedule will see even more people enjoy the experience of watching this extraordinary competition in 2013.
"We have a 14-team Super League in 2013 followed by a 14-nation Rugby League World Cup and that makes for the perfect formula for success.
“The chance to feature in the most successful Rugby League World Cup of all time at the end of the year is guaranteed to bring out the best in every Super League player and I share the view held by tens of thousands of fans that the big kick off cannot come quick enough.
“The agreement struck with Manchester City to host Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium in 2013 and 2014 will see that event grow and the return of ‘Extraordinary Mondays’ live on Sky Sports will help showcase Super League to a wider audience.
The 18th Super League season gets underway on Friday February 1 when champions Leeds Rhinos begin their defence of the title at home to Hull FC.
That fixture will be played out in front of the Sky Sports cameras, which will also be at Langtree Park the following day, Saturday February 2, when St Helens entertain Huddersfield Giants in coach Nathan Brown’s first match in charge.
The opening day also sees Salford City Reds host Wigan Warriors whilst on Sunday February 3 Bradford Bulls take on Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at the newly-named Provident Stadium, Catalan Dragons travel to Hull Kingston Rovers, London Broncos face Widnes Vikings and Challenge Cup holders Warrington Wolves take on Castleford Tigers.
Round 4 will comprise six matches to allow Leeds Rhinos to play NRL champions Melbourne Storm in the 2013 World Club Challenge on Friday February 22, a match which will televised live and exclusive on Sky Sports.
The Sky cameras will also be at the KC Stadium on Saturday February 23 to capture Hull FC v Warrington Wolves before heading west for Salford City Reds versus Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday February 24.
The 2013 season will feature a return to the popular Monday night Super League action on Sky Sports from Monday May 20, when the first of nine ‘Extraordinary Monday’ launches with the mouth-watering clash between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.
Eight different clubs will host the nine ‘Extraordinary Monday’ matches, which conclude with London Broncos versus Leeds Rhinos on Monday August 5.
All 14 Super League clubs will head for the Etihad Stadium on the Bank Holiday weekend of May 25-26 for the unique experience of Magic Weekend, which hosts the event for a second successive year.
The schedule for Magic Weekend 2013 features a spellbinding blend of derbies and arch rivalries and includes four matches at the home of football champions Manchester City on Saturday May 25 and three on Sunday May 26.
Magic Weekend opens at noon with Salford City Reds versus Widnes Vikings before local rivals Bradford Bulls and Huddersfield Giants go head to head from 2.15.
Bragging rights will be no more valuable than in the third match on Saturday, the Hull derby between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers who face each other in a 4.30 start before St Helens and Warrington Wolves provide a final flourish from 6.45.
The Sunday Magic gets underway at 3.00 with Catalan Dragons versus London Broncos and continues with the West Yorkshire derby, Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at 5.15.
A memorable weekend will reach a crescendo from with the battle between Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos and 2012 League Leaders Wigan Warriors, who brings proceedings to a close from 7.30.
The regular season concludes with the Round 27 fixtures over the weekend of September 6-8, after which the top eight clubs enter the intriguing play-off race which culminates in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday October 5.
Other highlights of the 2013 domestic calendar include the entry of the Super League clubs into the fourth round of the Challenge Cup on the weekend of April 20-21 and the final itself at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24.
Following the Grand Final, all attention switches to the 14-nation Rugby League World Cup which starts on Saturday October 26 with a double header featuring England v Australia and Wales v Italy at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium before concluding with the final at Old Trafford Manchester on Saturday November 30.
Season tickets for all 14 Super League clubs are now on sale and offer fans the best value tickets to watch their team during the 2013 season – further details and information can be found by visiting each club’s website.
Tickets for Magic Weekend 2013 will go on sale at the RFL and Super League club Ticket Offices from Tuesday December 4 while tickets for all 2013 RFL events including the World Club Challenge, Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final can be purchased during the forthcoming months by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or by calling 0844 856 1113.
Tickets for RLWC2013 are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Ticket Office on 0844 847 2013 or by visiting www.rlwc2013.com