UpFront: Rugby League returns to Sheffield and breaks new ground in London

A tale of two cities…

We’d like to start by wishing Sheffield Eagles good luck in their new home.

The Championship clash with Widnes Vikings on Monday, May 23 marks the club’s first in the steel city since 2019.

Given the occasion, it’s fitting that Premier Sports will screen Mark Aston’s side for the first time.

It seems things seldom come easy for Sheffield, and unfortunately, the crowd at the Olympic Legacy Park will be lower than hoped because of the need to operate to a reduced capacity (800 rather than 1,200).

After playing eleven games away and three home matches at Featherstone and one at Doncaster, there’s no doubt the club will be keen for some welcome income through the turnstiles, and it’s a pity they are now likely to lose out on some.

At least in stalwart Aston, they have a man who is well used to setbacks and has shown an admirable ability and determination to deal with them.

He has also built a decent side this season, and victory would keep them in touch with the play-off places with a game in hand on all their second-tier rivals other than Batley.

Inconsistent Widnes also have top-six aspirations and will be out to seal successive victories under the interim coaching of Ryan O’Brien.

Further down the M1, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club are gearing up to stage Rugby League for the first time.

We have detailed previews of both the 1895 and Challenge Cup finals, and hopefully, we have two great games in store as Featherstone and Leigh, the big spenders who are leading the race for promotion to Super League, clash before Huddersfield and Wigan go head-to-head for the second time in little over a fortnight.

Meanwhile London Broncos will be hoping for some Eastern promise when they take their Championship round-17 clash with Sheffield on Sunday, July 3 to Northfleet, Kent.

The club are going on the road and 25 miles to the East to the Kuflink Stadium, home to non-league football club Ebbsfleet United, because their new Cherry Red Records Stadium base at Wimbledon in South-West London is temporarily unavailable due to pitch maintenance work.

Kent is known as the garden of England, and Broncos are hoping to grow some support in the county.

“It’s always been our ambition to grow Rugby League across the region, and we hope our plans to host a one-off match each season in Kent can accelerate us in fulfilling this objective,” said chief executive Jason Loubser.

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