Rugby League: Two chances to get to final with Challenge Cup revamp

Challenge Cup holders, Catalan Dragons. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Challenge Cup holders, Catalan Dragons. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire
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LOWER DIVISION clubs will be given a “second chance” to reach Wembley in a new competition being introduced next year.

Teams outside Betfred Super League will be eligible to take part in the 1895 Cup which will end in a final at Wembley on Saturday, August 24.

Full details of the competition will be announced, along with the Betfred Championship and League One fixtures, on Sunday, November 25.

In 1997 lower-division teams which fell at the first hurdle in the Challenge Cup entered a Plate competition.

Hunslet reached the final only to lose 60-14 to Hull KR at Wembley in a warm-up to the main game.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) say the traditional Wembley curtain-raiser, the Year Seven Schools Steven Mullaney Memorial Match, will remain a “key part of the day”.

They have revealed the 2020 final will be played a month earlier, on Saturday, July 18 and confirmed a new agreement with Wembley which will see the event staged there until at least 2027.

Of the 1895 Cup, RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “It’s a recognition the game has changed since the onset of full-time professionalism in the Super League era. For a good number of the Championship and League One clubs reaching Wembley currently seems a distant dream. This innovation makes that dream much more realistic and achievable.”

Tickets for next year’s Challenge Cup final are now on sale. Confirmed Challenge Cup dates for 2019 are: Round one – January 26/27; round two – February 9/10; round three – March 9/10; round four – March 30/31; round five – April 13/14; round six – May 11/12; quarter-finals – June 1/2; semi-finals – July 27/28; final – August 24.