The draws for rounds four and five of the Betfred Challenge Cup will take place at Millom ARL in Cumbria on Wednesday 15 March (BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Online, 6pm).
2023 marks the 150th anniversary of the world’s oldest amateur Rugby League club, whose last appearance in the Challenge Cup came in 2019 when they defeated Red Star Belgrade 38-10 in what was the Serbian side’s first appearance in the competition.
Millom may not be in this year’s competition, but two other community clubs are in the hat for round four: National Conference League (NCL) Premier sides Hunslet ARLFC, who survived a gargantuan Westgate Common effort to triumph 15-12; and Rochdale Mayfield, whose convincing 38-10 win at Leigh Miners Rangers followed a highly impressive second round victory at League One Cornwall.
Four League One sides have progressed to round four, among them Midlands Hurricanes who were pushed all the way by Orrell St James of the North West Men’s League before securing a 19-12 passage and North Wales Crusaders who were also made to work hard for their 18-10 win over NCL giants Thatto Heath Crusaders.
10 Championship clubs make up the rest of the 16-side draw, including Halifax Panthers whose 22-18 win at high-flying Featherstone Rovers will begin to evoke memories of their run to the semi-finals of the competition in 2019 and Barrow Raiders who last won the Challenge Cup in 1955.
Round four ball numbers
- 1. Barrow Raiders
- 2. Batley Bulldogs
- 3. Bradford Bulls
- 4. Dewsbury Rams
- 5. Doncaster
- 6. Halifax Panthers
- 7. Hunslet ARLFC
- 8. Keighley Cougars
- 9. London Broncos
- 10. Midlands Hurricanes
- 11. Newcastle Thunder
- 12. North Wales Crusaders
- 13. Rochdale Mayfield
- 14. Sheffield Eagles
- 15. Widnes Vikings
- 16. York Knights
The draw for round five will immediately follow the draw for round four and comprise of four either/or fixtures. Ball one will be the first round four tie drawn; ball eight will be the last.
Joining the BBC’s Dave Woods for the draws will be Millom club representatives Mark Roskell and Peter Date, and Barrow Raiders Ladies head coach Amanda Wilkinson, whose own Women’s Challenge Cup campaign begins against York Valkyrie on Sunday 23 April.
Date was Millom captain when they played Hull FC at the Boulevard in the 1980 Challenge Cup. He scored the first try of the match to put the amateurs in front, but Hull eventually won 33-10 en route to Wembley were they were defeated by Hull KR.
Roskell played for Warrington in the 1989 Challenge Cup Semi-final against Wigan at Maine Road, Manchester. With the scores tied at 6-6 with minutes to go, Roskell and Warrington had their eyes on Wembley – until Wigan’s Joe Lydon kicked an outrageous drop goal from well inside his own half to give his side the lead and, eventually, a place in the final.
Wilkinson made history when she became Rugby League’s first female Level 3 qualified coach and was Wigan Warriors’ coach when they won the first ever Women’s Grand Final in 2018. The Women’s Challenge Cup Final will also be played at Wembley Stadium this year, for the very first time.
Round four ties will take over the weekend of 1 and 2 April, with round five ties scheduled for three weeks later (22/23 April). The winners of the four round five matches will automatically qualify for the semi-finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup. Betfred Super League sides enter the competition at Round Six.