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Decision made on plans for radical Challenge Cup restructuring

Leigh Leopards

The RFL have confirmed the structure of the new look 1895 Cup which is designed to give League One clubs the opportunity to have more high profile fixture.

In doing so, the competition has now introduced a group stage to the competition which only presses the question, will the Challenge Cup follow suit?

For a long time it had been rumoured that the Challenge Cup will have a group stage like the Champions League due to IMG’s thoughts on the competition.

Former Sky Sports commentators, Eddie Hemmings and Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson claimed that this was set to be confirmed in the coming months.

Serious About Rugby League can confirm that it is unlikely that a group stage will take place in 2024 but this could be introduced in 2025.

This is because it is expected that the Challenge Cup Round Six will take place in March over the weekend of the 22nd just before Rivals Round.

The quarter-finals are pencilled in for April 12-14th and the semi-finals come on May 18th and 19th. The Final is set to take place on June 8th.

This year’s Betfred Challenge Cup will also see a new team enter the First Round draw this December, and South Wales Jets have ambitious visions for their future in rugby league.

Based in the Welsh town of Pontypridd, the Jets were founded by Liam Price, a former rugby union prop, who has a remarkable back story in how the South Wales Jets came to be.

Speaking openly, Price discussed tough times and mental health struggles which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, after he had been placed on furlough and semi-retired from rugby union.

“When COVID-19 hit, it was a hard time for a lot of people. I was a workaholic and it felt like it was all being taken away.

“I knew I wanted to get back into rugby somehow. The idea was to start a social team, and we’d get together once or twice a year to have that social aspect back in our lives.”

“I would say to them (players) come and play for my team, remember why you enjoy it, and there’s no pressure – we go and play for fun.”

Price’s aim was to be a non-profiting charity side which would have a huge emphasis on the mental health aspect, promoting men’s mental health and breaking any stigmas.

During this time, South Wales Jets have raised an impressive £12,000 for charity so far, whether this be raising money for local mental health charities or participating in challenges such as the Welsh Three Peaks and National Three Peaks – their latest being the Walk 40 miles from Brecon to Cardiff challenge.

“We are completely non-profit, and everything goes straight to charity. They (the players) enjoy the aspect of that.”

Through this hard work, it is clear to see the emotions involved for this important cause and club itself, with a passion for the sport of rugby league and its community feel.

Although a charity side first and foremost, South Wales Jets are a force to be reckoned with in Welsh Men’s Rugby League, as they maintained a 100 percent record in their regular 2023 season.

Unbeaten in 2023 having won all nine games, they also hold the record for the highest winning margin ever by any team in the 20-year history of the WRL Men’s League.

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