After a history making final yesterday between Leigh Leopards and Hull KR, the first without Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and St Helens, the Challenge Cup is set for new horizons in the years to come.
Yesterday, before the final, it was confirmed that the Challenge Cup Final would be brought forward to 8th June next year.
The venue was again confirmed to be Wembley Stadium, as you would expect, with it also being confirmed that yet again the men’s final and women’s final will take place at the same venue.
This year we saw Leeds Rhinos and St Helens meet in a great women’s final that St Helens won to claim a third Challenge Cup in a row.
It was a terrific first for the sport but things will continue to evolve and change as we move into next year with the Challenge Cup set for a restructuring and a new format though the details of that aren’t clear but this is part of the reason for the new date.
Rhodri Jones, the Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial, said:
“We are pleased to be able to confirm that Betfred Challenge Cup Finals Day will be played at Wembley Stadium in each of the next two years and will be returning to an earlier position in the season in June.
“This fits with the Reimagining of Rugby League through the sport’s long-term partnership with IMG, as we work towards a restructured calendar, and also maintain the double header of Men’s and Women’s Challenge Cup Finals given the growth potential of the Women’s and Girls’ game.
“This will be an historic weekend for the sport’s longest-established showpiece, as for the first time the athletes of Women’s Rugby League take their rightful place on the Wembley stage alongside the men – with both Finals given a national platform on BBC Sport.
“With a fresh feel to the Men’s Final between two teams who have waited a long time since their single Wembley Challenge Cup wins in 1971 and 1980, and two new finalists in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, there is a real mood of positivity going into the weekend, as Rugby League plays its part in the centenary celebrations for Wembley Stadium.”
Paul Smyth, Head of Operations at Wembley Stadium, added:
“We are delighted to host Rugby League’s Challenge Cup Finals Day here at Wembley Stadium for another two years.
“Challenge Cup Final day is always one of the great days in the calendar and we are proud to have hosted it here at Wembley since 1929. We look forward to putting on more world-class finals over the next few years.”