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Surprise as Wembley Final not set to be shown on BBC


This weekend Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Leigh Leopards, Hull KR, Halifax Panthers and Batley Bulldogs all descend on Wembley Stadium for three finals.

Leeds and Saints are meeting in a second consecutive women’s Challenge Cup Final as the Saints chase three Challenge Cup trophies in a row.

Leeds and Saints have won the last four Challenge Cups between them.

Leigh Leopards and Hull KR meanwhile meet in the Challenge Cup Final in the first final since 1986 that hasn’t featured one of Leeds, Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Warrington Wolves.

Leigh are looking to win a first Challenge Cup since 1971 and Hull KR are hoping to end a wait that goes back to 1980.

But the action doesn’t conclude there with a fascinating clash between Halifax and Batley also coming but this game, unlike the other two and the Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final which also takes place this week, won’t feature on BBC.

The 2023 AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final between Batley Bulldogs and Halifax Panthers will be shown live, exclusive and completely free on the Our League web and app.

It will complete an eight-hour feast of Rugby League from Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon, following the historic double of the Betfred Women’s and Men’s Challenge Cup Finals, which will be shown live on BBC2 and BBC1 respectively.

The Women’s Final kicks off at 1150am, the Men’s Final in the traditional slot of 3pm, and the fourth AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final will kick off at 530pm.

Batley and Halifax are each playing in their first Final, and this will be the first 1895 Cup Final contested by two founder members of the Northern Union when it was formed in 1895.

It will be Batley’s first appearance at Wembley Stadium, as although they were the first winners of the Challenge Cup in 1897 and won it twice more in the next four years, that was well before the bold decision to take the Final south to Wembley in 1929.

Halifax have won the Challenge Cup five times, the last three of them at Wembley – most recently against St Helens in 1987.

As has been the case since the Final was first played at Wembley in 2019, the winner of the Ray French Award as Player of the Match will be determined by the votes of Our League members.

Anthony Thackeray was the first winner of the award, named after the hugely popular former dual code international and BBC commentator following a poll of Our League members, when Sheffield Eagles beat Widnes Vikings in 2019.

After the competition was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Thackeray was followed in 2021 by Craig Hall for his performance in Featherstone Rovers’ victory over York.

And last year the Papua New Guinea hooker Edwin Ipape became the first overseas winner when he was voted the outstanding performer in Leigh’s win against Featherstone.

Our League is Rugby League’s membership platform, completely free to join, and now boasting more than 250,000 members.

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