Should rugby league’s Challenge Cup Final still be held at Wembley?

WEMBLEY STADIUM; rugby league fans used to dream of the arches and the Wembley Way.

The annual trip down to London, where families and friends grouped together on coaches to make their way down to the capital seems a lifetime ago.

Fans of different teams used to congregate, hoping for an entertaining fixture in the greatest stadium in the country.

Back in 1966, 98,536 people flocked to Wembley to watch local rivals St Helens take on the Wigan Warriors – that was a record that has never been trumped.

In the modern Wembley era, the largest crowd numbered 85,217 in 2010 when Warrington Wolves demolished Leeds Rhinos, but since then the 80,000-mark has only been breached once.

The Challenge Cup Final was moved to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2022 after Wembley was unavailable as just over 51,000 people made the trip from Wigan and Huddersfield.

The new venue was exciting but it also yielded the smallest crowd between two UK finalists since Hull FC and Widnes went to Elland Road for a replay back in 1982.

The Challenge Cup needs new life breathing into the concept and one of the focal points for new rugby league shareholders IMG is to reignite the magic of the competition.

IMG have already announced their desire to revitalise the Challenge Cup and one of the ways in which they have sought to do this is by scrapping the Magic Weekend so more people can afford to go to Wembley.

Of course, rugby league has a deal with Wembley Stadium for the foreseeable future so such a question of moving is not for the near future.

A final in the north is an idea touted, but then again, to dispel the dimension of rugby league being a northern sport, this wouldn’t exactly be conducive to expanding the game.

If IMG exhausts all avenues in an attempt to grow the cup to what it once was then perhaps only then should another venue be considered.

As things stand, the lure of Wembley is still a major attraction for players, initiatives need to be put in place to rekindle that amongst the fanbase.