Challenge Cup Wembley return set to be marked with first round draw held at the national stadium

The Challenge Cup is one of the most historic competitions in our sport and it’s set to return to Wembley for the final after having been held at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in 2022 and it’s now been announced that the draw for the first round will also happen at Wembley.

The competition provides iconic moments such as the Watersplash Final, Fox missing from in front of the posts and in recent years we’ve seen five-try displays from Tom Briscoe In Leeds Rhinos drubbing of Hull KR.

Today the RFL have announced that the final is set to return to Wembley and both the men and women’s competition first round draw will be made on January 12th at the national stadium.

For the men the second round draw will also be made and could therefore provide an even greater incentive for teams in round one should they draw a potential rival game in round two.

The finals of both games will feature in a double header, the first of its kind in the Challenge Cup, with the women’s final preceding the men’s.

The women’s Challenge Cup will feature an initial group stage with four groups of four before a quarter-final stage will be created and then will run as a normal cup competition, whereas the men’s will follow that traditional knockout tournament format from round one onwards.

A statement on the RFL site read as follows.

The draws for the early rounds of both the Betfred Men’s and Women’s Challenge Cups will be held on Thursday January 12 at Wembley Stadium – where the Finals of both competitions will be staged in an historic double header exactly seven months later.

The Men’s Challenge Cup Final will return to Wembley in August 2023 after a two-year absence, and will be preceded for the first time by the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final.

The road to Wembley is significantly different in each competition.

In the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, the 12 teams from the Betfred Women’s Super League – including the champions Leeds Rhinos, the 2022 Cup winners St Helens, and three new names for the competition in Leigh Leopards, Salford Red Devils and York Valkyrie – will be joined by Oulton Raidettes and Hull KR from the Women’s RL Championship, and Cardiff Demons and London Broncos from the Betfred Women’s Super League South.

The 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four, with matches beginning on April 23, and the top two in each group qualifying for Quarter Finals on June 18.

The Betfred Challenge Cup will kick off on the weekend of February 11-12 with 34 teams from the community game including each of the three Armed Forces, six teams from the Southern Conference League, and one each from Wales, Scotland and Ireland – with Dublin City Exiles returning to the competition for the first time since 2002.

The 17 winners will be joined in the Second Round two weeks later by 10 teams from the Impact Performance National Conference League Premier Division and 11 teams from Betfred League One – including Cornwall RLFC, who will make their debut in the competition in their second full season, and Dewsbury Rams, who played in the first Wembley Final in 1929.

The 10 NCL Premier teams include a new name in Hunslet ARLFC, who have been formed through the merger of the 2022 champions Hunslet Club Parkside with Hunslet Warriors – and will join Hunslet RLFC, their professional neighbours, in the Second Round draw.

The First and Second Round draws will both be held at Wembley on January 12, and covered live, with the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup First Round draw, on BBC Sport – with further details of coverage to follow in the New Year.

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