Toulouse Olympique and Cornwall will not compete in the 2022 edition of the Challenge Cup, while the 28 amateur sides who will take part in the competition have been revealed.
Super League side Toulouse have again chosen to sit out the knockout tournament, and they will be joined on the sidelines by new club Cornwall, who will start their first season in League 1 next year but will not compete for the Challenge Cup.
The draw for the first round, as well as round two when League 1 sides enter, will be made from 5.30pm on Tuesday December 14 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which will host the final on May 28.
The first round of the competition will feature 28 amateur sides, with Bridgend Blue Bulls, Edinburgh Eagles and Galway Tribesmen representing Wales, Scotland and Ireland respectively.
There is the usual strong Armed Forces representation from Army, Navy and RAF, in addition to the Great Britain Police.
Reigning National Conference League champions Thatto Heath Crusaders, who reached the fifth round in 2019, are taking part, along with London’s two leading community sides – the 2021 Southern Conference League champions Wests Warriors and London Chargers, the team they beat in the Grand Final.
The first round will take place on the weekend of January 15/16 and the second round on the weekend of January 29/30, with the draws streamed live on the BBC Red Button and on the RFL’s Our League.
This season marks the return of amateur sides to the Challenge Cup as none took part last season due to the Covid pandemic, with the trophy competed for by only 28 professional sides.
The full 28 first-round entrants are: Army, Bentley, Bridgend Blue Bulls, Edinburgh Eagles, Ellenborough Rangers, Featherstone Lions, Galway Tribesmen, Great Britain Police, Hunslet Club Parkside, Jarrow Vikings, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, London Chargers, Milford, Navy, Orrell St James, Pilkington Recs, RAF, Rochdale Mayfield, Siddal, Stanningley, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Thornhill Trojans, Upton, West Hull, Wests Warriors, Wigan St Patricks, York Acorn.
After the 14 first-round ties, there will be twelve in round two, six in round three, which takes place on the weekend of February 12/13), ten in round four (when Championship clubs enter) on February 26/27, five in round five on March 12/13, and eight in round six (when Super League clubs enter) on March 26/27.
The five fifth-round winners will also qualify for the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, with a play-off on the Challenge Cup quarter-final weekend of April 9/10 to cut the number to four.
The semi-finals of both the Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup will be on the weekend of May 7/8.