The Rugby Football League has revealed the identity of the teams that will go into the hat when the draw is made on Friday week for the opening stage of the 2019 Challenge Cup.
Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade are a notable inclusion and are in the competition on the basis that they will be unable to enjoy home advantage until the third round, should they progress to that stage.
First round ties will be played on the weekend of 26/27 January while the draw, which will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website, is taking place at Emerald Headingley on Friday 14 December at around 5.30pm, prior to that night’s international at the same venue between England Academy and the Australian Schoolboys.
Headingley, as the RFL has stressed, hosted the inaugural Challenge Cup Final in 1897, when Batley accounted for St Helens.
Colin Kleyweg, the chairman of Red Star Belgrade Rugby League, said: “We are so proud to be a part of the 2019 Challenge Cup. This is a huge day for Rugby League in Serbia and for all expanding nations that nurture local talent and local players.”
Welsh side Torfaen Tigers, Scottish outfit Edinburgh Eagles and Longhorns of Leinster, Ireland, are also included, together with BARLA National Cup holders West Hull, who were runners-up in the Kingstone Press National Conference League Grand Final, and unbeaten NCL champions Hunslet Club Parkside.
Other Conference teams from the 2018 campaign also going into the hat comprise Beverley, Bradford Dudley Hill, Clock Face Miners, Crosfields, Dewsbury Moor, Drighlington, East Leeds, Featherstone Lions, Hunslet Warriors, Kells, Leigh East, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, Milford Marlins, Millom, Normanton Knights, Oulton Raiders, Rochdale Mayfield, Shaw Cross Sharks, Siddal, Skirlaugh, Stanningley, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Thornhill Trojans, Underbank Rangers, Wath Brow Hornets, West Bowling, Wigan St Jude’s, Wigan St Patrick’s, Woolston Rovers and York Acorn.
Pennine League champions Ovenden are in the frame, while Hammersmith Hills Hoists and London Chargers are included from the capital; the All Golds (of Gloucester) represent the West of England League, and Eastern League champions North Herts Crusaders are included.
Batley Boys (who have since been accepted into the National Conference League) and Bentley have been included from the Yorkshire Men’s League while the North West Men’s League has nominated Haydock and Orrell St James.
Distington have been put forward by the Cumberland League, and Wallsend Eagles will carry the North East League’s hopes.
The Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and Great Britain Police are also involved.
The thirteen survivors of the first two rounds will be joined by Betfred League 1 teams in Round Three, in March, while twelve Betfred Championship sides enter the competition, later that month, in Round Four.
Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique XIII will not take part in the 2019 Challenge Cup while four Super League clubs – Hull Kingston Rovers, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos and Salford Red Devils – will enter in Round Five, in April. The top eight from the 2018 Betfred Super League join in Round Six, in May.
Tickets for the final, at Wembley on Saturday 24 August, are now on sale, with Earlybird offers available by visiting https://www.rugby-league.com/tickets/challenge_cup_final
BBC Sport will again select one fixture from Round One through to Round Five for live-streaming via the BBC Sport website.
The full list of 52 clubs who will be in the draw is: All Golds, Army, Batley Boys, Bentley, Beverley, Bradford Dudley Hill, British Police, Clock Face Miners, Crosfields, Dewsbury Moor, Distington, Drighlington, East Leeds, Edinburgh Eagles, Featherstone Lions, Hammersmith Hills Hoists, Haydock, Hunslet Club Parkside, Hunslet Warriors, Kells, Leigh East, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, London Chargers, Longhorns, Milford Marlins, Millom, Normanton Knights, North Herts Crusaders, Orrell St James, Oulton Raiders, Ovenden, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Red Star Belgrade, Rochdale Mayfield, Shaw Cross Sharks, Siddal, Skirlaugh, Stanningley, Thatto Heath, Thornhill Trojans, Torfaen Tigers, Underbank Rangers, Wallsend Eagles, Wath Brow Hornets, West Bowling, West Hull, Wigan St Judes, Wigan St Patricks, Woolston Rovers, York Acorn.