Inside the community clubs still flying the amateur flag in Challenge Cup third round

YOU wouldn’t make it up, would you?

Shortly after I was able to comment, in the opening to this column in last week’s issue, that no one should ever again be able to state that there is no amateur Rugby League in London, the teams that had prompted my assertion – Hammersmith Hills Hoists and Wests Warriors – were drawn together in the third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

It really is a dream pairing (although the thought occurs that those oddballs in London who don’t like Rugby League might just view the tie, which is being played at Chiswick RUFC on Saturday, as a form of capital punishment, but that’s up to them, isn’t it?) and my colleague Doug Thomson has taken the opportunity to look at the clash here.

For my part, I can quote Hammersmith’s assistant coach Jared Warren, who was quick off the mark in responding to my request to those amateur teams that are still on the Wembley trail for their observations.

He enthused: “It’s a really exciting draw for Rugby League in London and the south, and it guarantees that one of us will be through to round four, probably against professional opposition, which is a huge incentive indeed. 

“The longer Wests and ourselves stayed on the board, the more you could sense we were going to draw each other and it promises to be a really competitive encounter.

“We’ve won the last two fixtures between the clubs, including our 14-0 victory in the Southern Conference League grand final last year, so Wests will no doubt be looking for retribution. I personally cannot wait for it.”

Nor, I imagine, can anyone else regarding their respective club’s tie.

Siddal have been drawn at home to Championship side Wakefield Trinity (who, only last season, were in Super League), and the Rugby Football League last week gave the thumbs-up for the match to be played at the Halifax outfit’s venue.

Secretary Joe McCormack said: “It’s been manic here since the draw was made and we have been working pretty much non-stop with the RFL and Wakefield to obtain confirmation that we can stage the game at Siddal.

“We are very excited as Trinity will be the biggest game we have ever staged at our ground so we are hoping for a day that will live long in the memory.”

Thatto Heath Crusaders, similarly, have been granted permission to entertain Featherstone Rovers on their own patch in another excellent development for the grass-roots.

Another huge tie is at Lock Lane, where the Impact Performance National Conference League luminaries entertain reigning NCL champions Hunslet ARLFC.

The Castleford outfit’s chair Mick Wildey said: “We are really pleased with the draw, a top local side at home, and the chance to get through and play against Wakefield (if, as expected, they win at Siddal).

“It couldn’t have worked out much better for us. We are looking forward to welcoming Hunslet ARLFC. It should be a cracker, and hopefully watched by a big crowd. We will be up for the challenge!”

Hunslet ARLFC secretary Paul Thorpe said: “We are pleased with the draw, which gives both clubs a great incentive to get into round four.”

Stanningley’s reward for the notable 19-18 win at Leigh Miners Rangers – which was secured though a late field-goal by Adam Butterill (pictured) and televised by the BBC – is a home match against NCL Premier Division Wath Brow Hornets.

The NCL Division One side’s Paul Townend told League Express: “We’re expecting another entertaining game, showcasing the NCL and the talent within the amateur game. We hope the supporters of both teams come out in force to enjoy the Rugby League on show.”