St Helens community clubs in Challenge Cup draw
The draw for the first and second rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup will be made on Tuesday, December 14, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where the final will be staged next year.
Teams from the community game will return to the first round next January after their Covid-enforced absence from the 2021 competition, before they are joined by the semi-professionals of Betfred League 1 in the second round two weeks later.
The double draw will be streamed live on BBC Red Button as well as the RFL’s Our League web and app, with coverage from 5:30pm.
The 28 teams in the opening round draw include some of community Rugby League’s most prolific nurseries of talent, such as the 2021 National Conference League champions Thatto Heath Crusaders from St Helens – who reached the fifth round of the 2019 competition with a run including a victory over North Wales Crusaders.
They will be joined by London’s two leading community teams – the 2021 Southern Conference League champions Wests Warriors and London Chargers, the team they beat in the Grand Final.
Bridgend Blue Bulls, Edinburgh Eagles and Galway Tribesmen will represent Wales, Scotland and Ireland respectively, with Jarrow Vikings from the North East of England, and the usual strong Armed Forces representation from Army, Navy and RAF, in addition to the Great Britain Police.
The second round draw will include four former winners of the Challenge Cup – Hunslet, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets and Swinton Lions – as well as one of the new names in Betfred League 1 next year, the Midlands Hurricanes.
They will be joined by Doncaster, Keighley Cougars, North Wales Crusaders, West Wales Raiders and perhaps most fittingly, given the location of the draw and the 2022 Final, London Skolars – who play nearby at the New River Stadium on White Hart Lane.
It has been agreed that Cornwall, the other new team in Betfred League 1 in 2022, will not enter the Challenge Cup in their debut season.
The 14 first round ties will be played on the weekend of January 15-16, and the 12 second round ties on the weekend of January 29-30, with the third round on the weekend of February 12-13 producing six winners to join the 14 Betfred Championship clubs in the fourth round on the weekend of February 26-27.
The fifth round will be held on the weekend of March 12-13, producing five winners to join 11 Betfred Super League teams in the sixth round on the weekend of March 26-27 – as previously, Toulouse Olympique will not enter the Betfred Challenge Cup in 2022.
Those five clubs will also qualify for the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup – with a play-off on the Betfred Challenge Cup quarter final weekend of April 9-10, and the Semi Finals of the Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup to be played on the weekend of May 7-8.
The final, which was won by Saints in 2021, will be played at Spurs' Stadium for one year only in 2022, before returning to Wembley Stadium in 2023.
Tickets for Challenge Cup Final on Saturday, May 28 – which also features the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final – are on sale now with a special early bird offer of £5 offall tickets, with prices starting from only £25 Adults and £10 U16s at eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague.
The following teams will enter the first round draw, with ties to be played on the weekend of January 15-16: Army, Bentley, Bridgend Blue Bulls, Edinburgh Eagles, Ellenborough Rangers, Featherstone Lions, Galway Tribesmen, Great Britain Police, Hunslet Club Parkside, Jarrow Vikings, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, London Chargers, Milford, Navy, Orrell St James, Pilkington Recs, RAF, Rochdale Mayfield, Siddal, Stanningley, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Thornhill Trojans, Upton, West Hull, Wests Warriors, Wigan St Patrick's, York Acorn.
In the second round draw, the winners will be joined by the following 10 teams from Betfred League 1 – with ties to be played on the weekend of January 29-30: Doncaster, Hunslet, Keighley Cougars, London Skolars, Midlands Hurricanes, North Wales Crusaders, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, Swinton Lions, West Wales Raiders.
Key dates: First round (14 ties) – January 15-16.
Second round) – February 12-13.
Fourth round (10 ties) – February 26-27 – Betfred Championship clubs enter.
Fifth round (5 ties) – March 12-13
Sixth round (8 ties) – March 26-27 – Betfred Super League clubs enter.
Quarter finals – April 9-10.
Semi-finals – May 7-8.
Betfred Challenge Cup Final 2022 – Saturday, May 28, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium