Exclusive: Leading amateur clubs to host huge Challenge Cup ties after RFL green light

Aaron Bower
Challenge Cup trophy - Alamy

The Challenge Cup trophy

Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers will travel to the grounds of amateur opposition in the next round of the Challenge Cup after both Siddal and Thatto Heath look set to get the all-clear to stage the momentous fixtures barring any late drama with safety reports, Love Rugby League has learned.

Championship favourites Wakefield were handed a fascinating tie at Siddal, with the prestigious Halifax amateur club set for another incredible Challenge Cup occasion after previously hosting Sheffield Eagles and being the opposition for Toronto Wolfpack‘s first-ever competitive fixture in the same competition.

Another Championship heavyweight in Featherstone were drew away at amateur opposition too, with Thatto Heath the foes for James Ford’s side.

Siddal to host Wakefield Trinity, Thatto Heath Crusaders to take on Featherstone Rovers in Challenge Cup third round

There were initial fears that those ties may have to be reversed or even played at neutral venues for a number of reasons. That included the prospect of how many fans could attend the fixture, with big travelling support expected from both Trinity and Rovers for the matches.

The final decision is yet to be rubber-stamped and finalised as the RFL await ground safety reports, but Love Rugby League has been told that both games should likely go ahead as planned. It means that Siddal’s Exley Lane ground will host the tie of the round – and it is likely to be a complete sell-out. It meets the minimum requirement capacity of 1,000 and while it doesn’t have the required 300 seats for a game at this stage of the cup, the RFL are understood to be relaxed on that given the magnitude of the occasion for Siddal, as well as Thatto Heath. Siddal’s game will take place on Saturday February 10.

The Halifax club have produced a string of Super League stars including the Grix brothers, Scott and Simon, plus the likes of Luke Robinson and current Wigan Warriors hooker Kruise Leeming. And they will now host what many consider to be the best squad outside of Super League in the cup, with Daryl Powell’s side set to visit next month as scheduled.

Love Rugby League had been told The Shay had been mooted as a possible venue, or even a switch to Wakefield home ground of Belle Vue. But Siddal have assured the RFL they can stage an occasion to savour and cater for what is likely to be significant demand in terms of tickets from Trinity, who enter the Cup at this stage of the competition for the first time this century.

Meanwhile, St Helens-based Thatto will also stage a memorable occasion when they host Featherstone, having defeated the Royal Navy to reach round three.

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