BBC boost as Leeds Rhinos prepare to begin defence of Wheelchair Challenge Cup title

Leeds Rhinos are preparing to begin their defence of the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:03 pm

Rhinos are among eight clubs entered in a semi-final festival at the Allan Arena in Hull on Saturday, May 14.

Each team will play four matches, with the top four teams qualifying for play-offs to decide who goes through to the final, at the same venue, on Saturday’s June 25.

Leeds beat Argonauts Skeleton Army, from Kent, in last year’s final at Sheffield, but will face competition from France this season, with Catalans Dragons entering the tournament for the first time.

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Rhinos' Jodie Boyd-Ward and James Simpson with the Challenge Cup after last year's win over Argonauts Skeleton Army. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

Other newcomers to the Challenge Cup are Wigan Warriors - who have replaced the 2021 Super League Grand finalists Leyland- and south east super-club London Roosters.

Wheelchair Super League sides Hull FC, North Wales Crusaders, Warrington Wolves and three-time Cup winners Halifax Panthers will also be competing for a place in the final, which will be streamed live by BBC Sport.

England Wheelchair Rugby League general manager Martin Coyd said: “We are thrilled the BBC will again cover the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup final, [which is] more fantastic exposure for the wheelchair game as we prepare for the World Cup later this year.

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“We are also delighted to welcome Catalans Dragons to the competition for the first time.

“France’s leading role in the development of wheelchair rugby league is a wonderful story for our sport to celebrate and we saw with the performances of the France national team against England at Medway last autumn they remain a formidable force, underpinned by a strong and genuinely national domestic competition.”

A Trophy competition will be staged alongside the Challenge Cup festival, involving Dundee Dragons, Gravesend Dynamite, Mersey Storm, Sheffield Eagles and Woodland Warriors.