Ian Watson reveals how he would improve the Challenge Cup amidst widespread ‘loss of its magic’ claim

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS head coach Ian Watson has explained what could be done to improve the Challenge Cup following outside claims that the competition has ‘lost its magic’.

In recent years, attendances throughout the competition have been disappointing to say the least, with the final at Wembley not hitting 70,000 spectators since 2016 when Hull FC beat Warrington Wolves.

For Watson, he believes that the precedence of the Super League Grand Final has pushed the Challenge Cup to second priority.

“I think the Grand Final has started to get so big whilst the Challenge Cup has always been big. I remember playing two years ago at Tottenham and that was a special occasion where it was packed out,” Watson told League Express.

“That’s what you want and you always remember it for that. They are always special occasions with songs on and flags waving around and the school kids playing beforehand.

“I wouldn’t say it has lost its magic, I would just say that the Grand Final has been pushed to become the number one big event in our calendar but the Challenge Cup is no small second behind it.”

So how could the Challenge Cup be improved?

“I liked it how it used to be; when the amateur teams and professional clubs came in at the same time.

“You rewarded the amateur sides for doing so well and eventually they could get a big tie against Wigan or St Helens or any other Super League team.

“It provided a bit of a lifeline for those clubs. I remember playing for Halifax against Eccles and then Swinton against Folly Lane. They are memorable games in your career.

“You play against players that you would never have had the opportunity before so I like the old style of the Challenge Cup and the prestige that was around it to get to play professional teams.”

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