1895 Cup has real appeal to Workington Town new boy

Workington’s Oscar Thomas says the chance of a final appearance at a major venue in the 1895 Cup adds a major incentive for Championship and League 1 clubs competing in next year’s Challenge Cup.

And Town’s new signing from neighbours Whitehaven would be happy to see the AB Sundecks-sponsored competition run as a stand-alone event, as it was when introduced in 2019.

That season, 20 clubs entered, with the eight League 1 sides involved playing in round one before the Championship teams came in at the next stage. Sheffield were the eventual winners, beating Widnes 36-18 at Wembley.

While the 2020 competition was cancelled because of the pandemic, this year’s piggy-backed the Challenge Cup, with the four sides victorious in the second round – Featherstone, Swinton, Widnes and York – forming the 1895 Cup semi-finalists as well as competing in the third round of the Challenge Cup.

Featherstone went on to beat York 41-34 in the 1895 Cup final, which once again formed a double-header with the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Next year, with more clubs entering the Challenge Cup and therefore a different structure for that competition, the five fifth-round winners on the weekend of March 12/13 will also qualify for the third running of the 1895 Cup.

There will be an 1895 Cup play-off on the weekend (April 9/10) of the seventh round (quarter-finals) of the Challenge Cup to leave four teams, with the semi-finals of both competitions set for the weekend of May 7/8.

The two finals will form a double-header at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, May 28, and Scotland international Thomas said: “Of course we’d like to go all the way.

“The big matches and big occasions are the ones you are going to remember at the end of your career, and for many players, they don’t come around that often.

“It’s tougher than ever for teams outside Super League to have a lengthy run in the Challenge Cup, but the 1895 Cup gives a realistic opportunity of making a final, and there aren’t too many of those available.

“I wouldn’t be against it going back to being a separate competition either.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.