Embarking on the Wembley trail…

FORTY-FOUR grassroots teams will go into the hat when the draw for the first round of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup takes place early next month.

The event, at Yorkshire Men’s League outfit Bentley, will be staged in the early evening of Thursday 5 December and streamed live on the BBC Sport website and through RFL channels. Ties are scheduled for the weekend of 11/12 January.

Bentley who, with East Hull, are one of two YML representatives in the Challenge Cup, have been chosen to host the draw as part of the south Yorkshire side’s celebrations surrounding a Small-Scale Grant of almost £15,000 – to cover the cost of new goalposts, a lawnmower, a line marker and fencing, plus playing equipment – through the CreatedBy RLWC2021 Capital Grants Programme ahead of the 2021 World Cup.

The draw includes BARLA National Cup holders Thatto Heath Crusaders plus 23 Kingstone Press National Conference League teams, five from the Southern Conference League and two from the North West Men’s League.

The four Services – the Army, Great Britain Police, the RAF and the Royal Navy – are again represented while one side will take part from each of the Iggesund Cumberland, Ireland, North East, Pennine, Scotland and Wales leagues. A team has also been included from the Harry Jepson OBE competition, which involves Regional League clubs from beyond Rugby League’s heartlands.

Grassroots sides in the round one draw are:
NATIONAL CONFERENCE LEAGUE: West Hull, Hunslet Cup Parkside, Underbank Rangers, Siddal, Lock Lane, Rochdale Mayfield, Leigh Miners Rangers, Thornhill Trojans, Pilkington Recs, York Acorn, Featherstone Lions, Milford, Stanningley, Wigan St Patricks, Oulton Raiders, Skirlaugh, Saddleworth Rangers, Normanton Knights, Dewsbury Moor Maroons, West Bowling, Ince Rose Bridge, Wigan St Judes, Barrow Island.
NORTH EAST LEAGUE: Jarrow Vikings.
NORTH WEST MEN’S LEAGUE: West Bank Bears, Ashton Bears.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE LEAGUE: Wests Warriors, London Chargers, Hammersmith Hills Hoists, Bedford Tigers, Torfaen Tigers.
East Hull.
SCOTLAND LEAGUE: Edinburgh Eagles.
WALES LEAGUE: Rhondda Outlaws.
HARRY JEPSON TROPHY: Sherwood Wolf Hunt (West Warriors A won last year’s final, but Wests’ first team are in the Challenge Cup through their membership of the Southern Conference League).
SERVICES: British Army, Royal Navy, Great Britain Police, RAF.

Bentley Chairman Pete Wainer said: “We’re delighted to have received the World Cup funding, which will make a big difference to us as a community club, and we’re excited about Doncaster’s involvement in the World Cup itself.

“To have the chance to stage the Challenge Cup draw is another big boost to the club. It is also something that the local community, many of whom are involved with the club in one way or another, can look forward to in the wake of the recent problems the local area has had with the flooding in recent weeks.”

The 2020 Challenge Cup Final will be played at Wembley on Saturday 18 July. Amateur teams will contest the first two rounds in the bid to emulate Thatto Heath’s feat, last year, of reaching the fifth round, with Betfred League 1 outfit North Wales Crusaders among the Crusaders’ scalps.

League 1 sides enter the competition in round three, on the weekend of 8/9 February, and Championship teams embark on the Wembley trail in Round Four on 22/23 February.

Super League outfits Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR, Wakefield Trinity and Toronto Wolfpack (the latter returning to the Challenge Cup after a one-year absence) dip their toes in the water at the Fifth Round stage on the weekend of 14-15 March.

The top eight teams from the 2019 Super League enter in Round Six, on 4-5 April.

The Quarter-Finals will be staged on 9-10 May and the Semi-Finals on 6-7 June.

Toronto Wolfpack and Catalans Dragons will be the only two overseas clubs taking part, with the Canadian outfit obliged to play their ties away from home.

Toulouse Olympique and Red Star Belgrade – who lost at Millom last year – have opted not to be involved this time.