Yorkshire Cup set for expansion after successful relaunch

THE YORKSHIRE Cup could be set to expand next year after Rugby Football League (RFL) chief executive Ralph Rimmer gave the revived competition a thumb’s up.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 5:24 am
Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer.

Bradford Bulls lifted the new trophy following a 14-12 win over Batley Bulldogs in the final played in front of more than 2,000 fans at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, Mount Pleasant, three days ago.

Dewsbury Rams, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax, Hunslet, Hunslet Club Parkside and York City Knights also took part in this year’s competition, which was played over three consecutive pre-season weekends.

The tournament was devised and run by the clubs themselves and other teams are understood to be interested in taking part in 2020.

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Toronto Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Speaking at the RFL’s season launch in York yesterday, Rimmer said: “I think it has got potential.

“It was great to see the enthusiasm of the clubs in creating the competition though and we’re talking about what happens next.”

Batley, Dewsbury and Featherstone begin their Betfred Championship campaigns on Sunday, February 3, with League One starting two weeks later – though Hunslet’s first game is not until February 24.

The RFL have confirmed Sky Sports will broadcast games from the Championship play-offs, including the promotion-deciding Grand Final.

Toronto Wolfpack coach, Brian McDermott. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

All Toronto Wolfpack’s matches will be covered live on Sky platforms and selected Championship and League One fixtures will be shown on the RFL’s Our League website.

But Rimmer insisted Toronto, coached by former Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott, will not be involved in the Coral Challenge Cup this year.

The RFL have confirmed Catalans Dragons will defend their trophy after the French side had threatened to withdraw from the competition.

Catalans were angry at being asked to cover a potential shortfall in ticket sales should they reach Wembley again this season, but the RFL say a “compromise” has been reached allowing them to enter the sixth-round draw as planned.

Speaking in York, Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble indicated the Canadian club are keen to take part, reversing their original decision.

However, the first round, involving clubs from the community game, begins this weekend and Rimmer said there is no chance of Toronto being granted a reprieve. He said: “It’s really straightforward, they know what the situation is and there’s been no further discussions so the competition is as you see it. They won’t be in the Challenge Cup this year.

“All the structures have been worked out for the cup and they’re aware of that.”

Rimmer insisted details of the compromise allowing Catalans to take part are “commercially sensitive”, but admitted it had been a “tense situation”.

He also said he is “positive” about Keighley Cougars, who are in special measures, fulfilling their League One opening fixture at Whitehaven on February 17.