New competition announced in Challenge Cup revamp

Empty seats during the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 25, 2018. See PA story RUGBYL Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Empty seats during the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 25, 2018. See PA story RUGBYL Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
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A new competition for lower division clubs will be introduced next season, culminating in a decider at Wembley on Challenge Cup final day.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) have also confirmed this year’s Challenge Cup final will be staged on Saturday, August 24, but the showpiece will be brought forward to July 18 in 2020.

Hull FC's Gareth Ellis lifts the trophy after the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 26, 2017. See PA story RUGBYL Final. Photo credit should read: Paul Harding/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.

Hull FC's Gareth Ellis lifts the trophy after the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 26, 2017. See PA story RUGBYL Final. Photo credit should read: Paul Harding/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.

Amd the governing body have renewed their agreement with Wembley ensuring the sport’s biggest annual day out will continue at the national stadium until at least 2027.

Details of the new competition, to be known as the 1895 Cup, will be confirmed on Sunday, November 25, along with the Betfred Championship and League One fixtures, but the RFL say it will give lower division clubs a “second chance to reach Wembley next year”.

The introduction of the 1895 Cup means there will be three finals at Wembley next August with the Steven Mullaney Memorial Match - the Year Seven Champion Schools final - continuing on the big stage.

In 1997 lower division clubs which fell at the first hurdle competed in the Challenge Cup plate. Hull KR hammered Hunslet 60-14 in the final, played as a curtain-raiser to the main event at Wembley, but the competition was not repeated.

Challenge Cup Final Wembley 2015 Leeds Rhinos v Hul;l KR aug 29th 2015'Jamie Peacock Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai

Challenge Cup Final Wembley 2015 Leeds Rhinos v Hul;l KR aug 29th 2015'Jamie Peacock Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “This is a significant and exciting day for the Challenge Cup and the game’s relationship with Wembley Stadium.

“Next year we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first Challenge Cup final at Wembley in 1929. Rugby League is proud of the length and strength of that association – Wembley Stadium has been the setting for so many of the greatest matches and memories in the game’s history, with Catalans Dragons writing another chapter when they became the first overseas club to win the Cup earlier this year.

“We are therefore delighted to confirm the extension of that relationship until 2027.

“We believe the introduction of the 1895 Cup will give that relationship another boost. It’s a recognition that the game has changed since the onset of full-time professionalism in the Super League era, meaning that for a good number of the Championship and League One clubs who have won the Challenge Cup in the past, reaching Wembley currently seems a distant dream.

“This innovation makes that dream of Wembley much more realistic and achievable.”

He added: “We’ve seen in football, with the EFL Trophy that was introduced for teams for the third and fourth tiers of their professional structure as the Associate Members’ Cup in 1983, that the introduction of a realistic additional chance to reach Wembley can have a rejuvenating effect on clubs.

“With the 1895 Cup, we want to recognise the contribution of our non-Super League clubs to the game’s history since its founding as the Northern Union 123 years ago – and provide an exciting new chance for their players and supporters to taste the magic of Wembley.

“With the Steven Mullaney Memorial Match continuing to provide a unique opportunity for some potential future stars to play at Wembley Stadium, we’ve tried to create a Challenge Cup Final Day package which will breathe new life into rugby league’s big day out.”

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.

The first round draw, involving amateur clubs, will take place in the week beginning December 10.