Newcastle Thunder have provided an update on their status for the upcoming 2024 season after the club had previously declared that they would be withdrawing from all competitions for the campaign.
When the news broke that the Thunder would not be able to fulfil their commitments to the 2024 season it marked a dark day in the rugby league calendar.
It meant that Thunder had become the third team within 12 months to fold following the collapses and withdrawal from League One of West Wales Raiders in late 2022 and London Skolars earlier in 2023.
Moreover Newcastle’s decision meant League One would drop to just an eight team division for 2024, raising questions over the viability of the competition.
As such the RFL began talks with the Championship and League One sides over the potential for a restructure for the 2025 campaign.
Serious About Rugby League understands that at present the plan is to ensure that the structure for 2025 is set and confirmed before the 2024 season commences, and we now have a start date for the 2024 season.
The Championship and League One will kick off on the weekend of March 16th and 17th, meaning there remains three and a half months to come to a resolution over the structure beyond Super League.
Part of the reason why both Championship and League One start so late is because of the fact that the 1895 Cup will take place across January and February, a new format for the competition, and a competition that Newcastle have been included in.
Of the 23 clubs in Championship and League One (assuming Newcastle remain in League One), 21 will take part in the 1895 Cup with both Toulouse and Cornwall left out of the competition.
Seven groups of three have been formed, the winners of each group and the best performing second-place heading into the quarter-finals, from which point there will be a standard knockout tournament format.
Newcastle’s inclusion in the draw has led to the club releasing a statement which has seen them offer an update on their future as well.
Thunder have been drawn in group three alongside Wakefield Trinity and York Knights and they shared that news via X with the following statement.
“Newcastle Thunder are encouraged to see the 1895 cup fixtures include the club. Whilst the RFL has not formally accepted the club for next season, club is close to submitting all the required info & docs ahead of the decision.”
It would therefore seem that the club are working hard to be included in the 2024 League One Campaign, however there’s been no confirmation of their opening fixtures in the competition. That’s despite the remaining teams confirming their opening home game, so it would suggest there’s still a process to go through for the club to be confirmed for the 2024 campaign.