IMG could turn Challenge Cup into rugby league’s Champions League

IMG are set to reimagine rugby league and even the most traditional aspects of rugby league aren’t safe from this change.

The sport’s oldest and most prestigious competition the Challenge Cup is set for a big change as the RL Commercial confirmed this week.

They said: “I think looking ahead at ’24 there will be some differences to the domestic calendar, the Challenge Cup being a key part of that. That was part of IMG’s recommendations, one of the key pieces of work in the off-season has been around what does 2024 look like.

“I think moving the date from August, when traditionally a lot of people are away on holiday, is probably a good starting point.”

Speaking of starting points, their is an aim to give a real starting point to the Challenge Cup:

“I also think there’s an element of bring the Challenge Cup back in the sixth round, in terms of it has felt over the last couple of years that the sixth round has just landed and appeared. We haven’t started the competition off with a bang as it were, that’s something else that we’ve been looking at.

“How can we provide a starting point to the Challenge Cup, rather than it just falling between rounds five and six of Super League?

“That’s how I’d differentiate potentially what’s going to happen going forward, and I think the other bit is probably the decline of the Challenge Cup has been in some part down to the creation of Magic, which we all know is kind of up for debate in terms of loop fixtures. There’s a multitude of ingredients that could change the fortunes of Wembley.”

These comments brought on the question of then why is the final in August this year:

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know. That was in the diary before I started at RL Commercial, I would assume it’s around Wembley availability and something they might have later on in the August.”

There is also a lot of talk around the new format of the Challenge.

RL Commercial confirmed that there are six formats being considered including the Champions League format with clubs put into pools.

They said: “There are six solutions at the moment that we’re working through, I think two of the six will be viable and two we’ll take forward in a bit more detail. Of the six your example (the Champions League) is there within those six.”

It was also confirmed that the two-legged ties pitched had been vetoed.

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