Hull KR are headed to Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final for the first time since their record-breaking defeat to Leeds Rhinos in 2015, however this is a different Rovers side as evidenced by the grit and determination in overcoming holders Wigan Warriors in their semi-final with an 11-10 golden point victory.
Their opponents for their big date at Wembley are Leigh Leopards with the Leopards’ meteoric rise seemingly not set to stop anytime soon, although Willie Peters and his team will hope they can cut that short at Wembley as they aim to lift the prestigious trophy for the first time since 1980.
It won’t be easy to beat Leigh as Rovers have found out on two occasions this season with their first loss coming to a last minute try, but concerningly their second loss saw the Leopards thump Rovers and put over 30 points on them.
Panic set about amongst Robins supporters last night when it was reported by the Examiner Live that KR’s 2024 signing of Oliver Gildart was set to sign for Leigh with immediate effect.
It prompted the question as to whether the former Wigan man would feature against his future club in the final, and Peters was asked about that post match after their win over Castleford Tigers.
“I only found out myself today. From what I understand, I’m not sure whether it’s signed, sealed and delivered but my understanding is that he’s going to Leigh but that’s all I know. I don’t know whether it’s done,” Peters told KRTV.
Asked how he felt about the move, he stated: “It’s good for Ollie that he’s playing again. But if he’s going to Leigh then he’s playing at another club this year and he’s our focus and he’ll be with us next year.
“So it’s one of those things where, yeah, personally for him, I’m happy that he’s playing. But he’s at another club this year, or potentially have another club.”
Then came the question Rovers fans had been pondering themselves, could Gildart feature against Rovers at Wembley if the deal is done?
“No, he can’t. Well, my understanding is he can’t play at Wembley, but he can play after that. If anything changed I’d be very, very surprised.
“When I found out today, naturally I was surprised, no doubt about that. But we needed to make sure that he wasn’t going to be playing against us at Wembley. So I’d like to think that the other team’s going to stick to that.
“I need to speak to Paul, our CEO, to see if it’s in writing or it’s not in writing. I don’t know, to be honest. All I know is that apparently he’s not playing against us at Wembley.”
Peters stated that he was fairly sure Gildart wouldn’t feature at Wembley but having consulted the Rugby Football League’s Operational Rules, Serious About Rugby League can confirm that Gildart will be ineligible unless the deal was somehow done before the 14th of July.
Given that this is the first report of any move, two weeks after that deadline, it seems highly unlikely that that’s the case.
The Operational Rules state as follows in section B3:9: “For the avoidance of doubt: (a) the provisions of Operational Rules C1:2:5 to C1:2:7 apply to Challenge Cup Final Matches and (b) a Player is only eligible to play in the Challenge Cup Semi Finals of Final if he is on the Register of the applicable Club by the close business on the Friday in the week prior to the Semi-Finals (in the 2023 Season being Friday 14th July) …”
The rules do continue on but this is the section relevant to Gildart’s situation.
With the move still only reported, and not confirmed, it’s assumed that Gildart has not been registered with the club since before the 14th July.
That’s the date that he would have had to register by as a Leigh Leopards player for him to be eligible for either the semi-final or final.
As seen by Brad Schneider, who was announced as a Hull KR player on the 6th July, he was able to play in the semi-final and will of course be eligible for the final providing he doesn’t pick up any ban.