Often hailed as one of the most prestigious events on the rugby league calendar, the Challenge Cup Final has become something of a quandary in recent seasons.
With the Final moving from Wembley for the 2022 season to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, there have been some calls to keep moving the venue – much like the Magic Weekend concept.
But, where could the Challenge Cup Final be held in future if this was the case?
Nou Camp – Barcelona
Now, the one thing that stands out immediately from this list is the fact that Barcelona’s Nou Camp holds almost 100,000 spectators. That could make a potential Challenge Cup Final seem incredibly sparse. That being said, Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors took their fixture on the road to the Catalan capital, which attracted over 30,000. The interest is most definitely there and, if marketed properly, who’s to say how many spectators could flock eventually. The idea of having a rugby league concept in Barcelona, too, would be an undoubted pull for many.
The Stadium of Light – Sunderland
The northern reaches of England have proved to be a huge success for Rugby League in recent years. It is widely regarded that Newcastle Thunder are expanding in the right way and with the success of the Magic Weekend at St. James’ Park it is clear that something good is brewing in that part of the world. This should give the RFL the confidence to try somewhere else in the area and the Stadium of Light is the perfect candidate. It is close to Newcastle as well as coastal areas which gives fans a lot more options when staying over for the weekend.
Emirates Stadium – Arsenal
Like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Emirates Stadium has the capacity and the London proximity. It is also close to the main station in the capital – London Kings Cross – with just a 15-minute car journey or 40-minute walk. That being said, there may not be an appetite for another large stadium in London to host the event – particularly if it isn’t Wembley. But, that’s not to say that Arsenal do not have the stunning facilities to host.
Hampden Park – Glasgow
Scotland has really been a quandary in terms of rugby league in the past; a Scottish expansion side has ever been touted whilst rugby union and football arguably take precedence. Hampden Park is the national football stadium of Scotland, with Queen’s Park having moved out following over a century there. With Glasgow also a way away from Edinburgh – where the Magic Weekend has been held before – it would bring in new punters that fancy discovering a new city. It’s also practically the same number of miles away from Manchester and Yorkshire as those two areas are from London.
Aviva Stadium – Dublin
There have been a number of ideas broached in recent years about potential expansion spots across the Irish Sea. Not only is Dublin an excellent sporting hub, it also has the pull of being a beautiful city – and one that has been well converted by tourism. The Aviva Stadium, home to the Irish rugby union team and the Republic of Ireland football side, generates an incredible atmosphere and it would be quite superb to witness the likes of Leeds Rhinos or St Helens do battle in the Irish capital. It would also put the likes of the Dublin Exiles on the map.