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Major blow for the Challenge Final in 2024

Leigh Leopards

Wembley Stadium will stage another feast of Rugby League including the Betfred Women’s and Men’s Challenge Cup Finals on Saturday June 8 in 2024 – reverting to an earlier slot in a restructured calendar.

The event will also include the fifth AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final and the inspiresport Champion Schools.

The Final of Rugby League’s oldest knockout competition returned to Wembley last year after a year at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. History was made as the Women’s Challenge Cup Final between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens was played at the national stadium for the first time before the Men’s Final between Hull KR and Leigh Leopards which was the first final to decided by Golden Point.

The combination of the return to Wembley and the new-look line-up, which also included the Final of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup between Batley Bulldogs and Halifax Panthers, has proved popular with fans, with advance ticket sales already guaranteeing the highest crowd for a Challenge Cup Final since 2019.

It was the 80th Men’s Final at Wembley since the bold decision to take Rugby League’s showpiece occasion to the national stadium in 1929 – six years after it opened.

And now a two-year deal has been concluded to confirm the 81st and 82nd Men’s Finals will be staged at Wembley Stadium in 2024 and 2025 – as well as the second and third Women’s Finals.

This on the face of it is fantastic news but in a worrying twist it means the event will be battling for publicity and fans in the same city with the Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham.

This could work against the final and reduce mainstream media coverage and potentially hurt the attendance.

RFL delighted with Challenge Cup Final deal

Hull Kingston Rovers v Leigh Leopards Rugby League Challenge Cup 12/08/2023. Cup Final Leigh Leopards Owner Derek Beaumont joins the players and celebrates at the final whistle during the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final match between Hull Kingston Rovers and Leigh Leopards at Wembley Stadium, London, England on 12 August 2023. London Wembley Stadium Greater London England

Rhodri Jones, the Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial, said of the new deal:

“We are pleased to be able to confirm that Betfred Challenge Cup Finals Day will be played at Wembley Stadium in each of the next two years and will be returning to an earlier position in the season in June.

“This fits with the Reimagining of Rugby League through the sport’s long-term partnership with IMG, as we work towards a restructured calendar, and also maintain the double header of Men’s and Women’s Challenge Cup Finals given the growth potential of the Women’s and Girls’ game.

“This will be an historic weekend for the sport’s longest-established showpiece, as for the first time the athletes of Women’s Rugby League take their rightful place on the Wembley stage alongside the men – with both Finals given a national platform on BBC Sport.

“With a fresh feel to the Men’s Final between two teams who have waited a long time since their single Wembley Challenge Cup wins in 1971 and 1980, and two new finalists in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, there is a real mood of positivity going into the weekend, as Rugby League plays its part in the centenary celebrations for Wembley Stadium.”

Paul Smyth, Head of Operations at Wembley Stadium, added:

“We are delighted to host Rugby League’s Challenge Cup Finals Day here at Wembley Stadium for another two years.

“Challenge Cup Final day is always one of the great days in the calendar and we are proud to have hosted it here at Wembley since 1929. We look forward to putting on more world-class finals over the next few years.”

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