THE Harry Jepson Trophy, which kicks off at the weekend, will now be played as a regional representative, rather than as a club, competition.
Previously contested by the various champions of leagues beyond amateur Rugby League’s traditional northern heartlands, the trophy – named in honour of Harry Jepson OBE, one of the leading lights of the old Southern Conference, who passed away at this time last year – will now involve the East, London & South East, Midlands and West of England sides.
The competition gets underway on Saturday (2 September) and, after the teams have played each other once, will climax in a final at Hemel on Sunday 24 September.
The RFL’s Competitions Manager, Dave Raybould, said: “There is a real appetite for regional representative Rugby League in England and the 2017 Harry Jepson trophy is seen as an ideal opportunity to showcase it. Preparations have begun in earnest for what should be an exciting climax to the community season in those regions.”
Sun Tamura, the senior manager of the London & South East side, said: “I had the privilege of participating in the Harry Jepson Trophy with Wests Warriors last year, and am very excited to be part of the brand new structure.
“I was delighted to see not only players from the top clubs in the London Premier coming forward, but a lot of Merit League players and staff also putting their hands up.
“We have had a healthy number of player nominations and I’ll be excited to see how the squad shapes up over the next couple of weeks.”
He added: “The intention is to showcase how much London has to offer in terms of the calibre of Rugby League played in the region and the passion our players have for the sport.
“This is the first time in my experience that London clubs have come together in this form and there have already been very positive conversations and discussions among the management group.”
Chris Chatten, Chairman of the West of England Representative programme, reflected: “We are excited to be participating in the Harry Jepson Trophy.
“Planning for this competition started during pre-season when club coaches were asked to nominate the top three players from each league fixture, which helped to inform invites.
“Our regional squad has now had two training sessions together, with around 80 players taking part.”
Saturday 2 September: West of England v London & South East; Midlands v East.
Saturday 9 September: London & South East v Midlands; East v West of England.
Saturday 16 September: Midlands v West of England; East v London & South East.
Sunday 24 September: Final (Pennine Way, Hemel)