The Challenge Cup Final will return to Wembley this year following a brief hiatus and to celebrate that fact the first and second round draw will be made under the iconic arch tomorrow evening, Thursday 12th January at 6pm.
That news in itself is exciting as whilst pre-season rumbles on the announcement of the most prestigious cup competition in domestic rugby league returning to it’s spiritual home is huge.
For some sides though this draw for the 2023 Challenge Cup will be more special than most years so here’s five sides who you should keep an eye out for in the draw and the reasons why.
For context the round one draw will feature amateur sides before round two sees a further group of teams added including the all members of League One.
The Eels are a team to keep an eye out for simply because they’re competing in their first ever Challenge Cup. Having finished third in the 2022 Southern Conference League the side that were only founded in 2004 fins their name in the hat for the first time ever.
Doncaster Toll Bar
On a similar theme to Brentwood, Toll Bar find their name in the first round draw for the first time ever and they enter the competition with plenty of form in cup competitions having won the 2022 Yorkshire Men’s Cup Final. The fact this is the side’s first ever appearance in the tournament comes as more of a shock than Brentwood’s debut given their proximity to the traditional heartlands.
Dublin City Exiles
The Exiles are the first Irish team to compete in the Challenge Cup since 2002 after they won the Irish Rugby League in 2022. The side are coached by Richard Egan, who took over the role in 2005 making him one of the longest-serving coaches in the 2023 competition.
Another side that will be their nation’s sole representative in the competition are Edinburgh Eagles who, similar to Dublin, won silverware in their own nation in 2022. For the Eagles they picked up the Scottish Cup during their most recent campaign but a win in the Challenge Cup would be huge for them.
The team that call themselves North Yorkshire’s biggest Amateur Rugby Club find themselves in the round one draw again after a 2022 where they finished top of the National Conference League 2nd division. The reason Heworth are worth keeping an eye on in this draw is the sheer history of the side forming in 1922 and later becoming one of the ten founders of the National Conference League.
The draw is set to be broadcast on BBC iPlayer from 6pm with the games for round one of the Cup scheduled for the weekend of the 11/12 February.