RFL to review Challenge Cup policies following Catalans saga

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer has confirmed the governing body will review its decision to request bonds from non-member clubs to enter the Challenge Cup.

It appeared the historic competition would not feature the defending holders in 2019 after the Dragons refused to commit to covering a shortfall in ticket sales.

But the RFL confirmed they had come to an agreement with the Dragons on Monday that would ensure they play next year.

It’s believed the RFL were keen to receive the commitment from all non-member clubs to make up for a shortfall in ticket sales following last year’s disappointing Wembley attendance.

Rimmer, who would not disclose the details behind their agreement with the French club, admitted they would reconsider the policy moving forward, but insisted they were acting on behalf of the game.

“We will review everything next year but in the end, the governing body has a responsibility to its members, so there was no abdication of our responsibility to the game, in the end, Catalans have been very supportive.

“We’ll be reviewing everything over the Summer and we’ll put something in place for next year.

“The details of that (the deal with Catalans) are commercially sensitive, but Bernard (Guasch) has been really good and we’re delighted they’re going to be in it.

“I don’t think it’s a PR disaster, I’m really excited and we start on Sunday with Millom and Red Star Belgrade, which is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.”

Rimmer confirmed Toronto would not be reinstated, however, despite Wolfpack officials saying there was still a chance of them being included.

The Canadian club had also refused to the arrangements, but unlike Catalans, Rimmer insists they won’t be playing in the Cup this year.

“It’s really straightforward. They know what the situation is, the competition is as we see it.

“I like David Argyle a lot, he’s got a little twinkle in his eye, but they won’t be in the Challenge Cup this year.

“The whole structure has been worked out. They’re aware of that.”

Rimmer was speaking following the announcement of a major broadcast boost for the game below Super League, with SKY set to show every Toronto Wolfpack game this year.

Beyond that, OURLeague, the RFL’s official app, will be streaming a game a week from Championship, League 1 or the Women’s Super League.

It comes after years of calls from within the game to give the lower leagues more exposure, with Rimmer one of the most vocal advocates.

“We can look forward to some fabulous Rugby League but not only that but some great coverage.

“I think it was brilliant. We tried really hard, Mark Foster dealt with it superbly. The Wolfpack as well have played their part in the role. We’re going to get some really good coverage for these divisions next year and that gives us the ability to promote what they do and to many people who will see it.

“It was a clear objective from us and I’d like to thank SKY. They’ve been great.”

Rimmer would not be drawn on the application from a New York-based franchise to enter the competition in 2020 or the upcoming Lions tour, but confirmed he would discuss those topics and more in detail at a media briefing in February.