Northern Rail Cup Final to be held at Halifax

The 2013 Northern Rail Cup final will be held at The Shay in Halifax.

It brings to an end an eight-year association with the Bloomfield Road stadium in Blackpool, where the final has taken place since 2005, and become one of the stand-out dates on the rugby league calendar outside Super League.

As part of the move, a Northern Rail Bowl final will be played before the main event on Saturday 20th July.

The Bowl final will be contested by the two Championship 1 clubs which topped their respective Northern Rail Cup groups prior to the knock-out stages of the competition.

For the first time, the group phase doesn’t include the Championship teams, who will now automatically progress to the last 16 knock-out stage following the growth of their league programme.

The 2013 Northern Rail Cup kicks off over the weekend of March 2-3 when eight Championship One clubs enter the group stages. The top club in each of the two pools will then join the 14 Championship clubs in the knock-out stages, which commence on the weekend of May 18-19.

RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer said: “The Northern Rail Cup final has always delivered a feast of entertaining Rugby League and the introduction of the Northern Rail Bowl will make this great occasion even more memorable.

“This is a very exciting year for the sport with an expanded Championship and three new clubs entering Championship One: with an extra trophy up for grabs, I fully expect the action to be even more cut-throat over the coming months.

“Every team now has a realistic possibility of a final appearance on the big stage: from the moment the ball is kicked-off in every Northern Rail Cup fixture, every pass, every tackle and every score will count!”

Prior to 2005, the Northern Rail Cup final was held at Spotland (2003 and 2004) and Post Office Road (2002).

The groups are:

Group A

Oldham
Rochdale Hornets
Gateshead Thunder
North Wales Crusaders 

Group B

South Wales Scorpions
London Skolars
Gloucestershire All Golds
Hemel Stags

Each club will play four games, two home and two away. Three games will be between clubs in their pool with one game played against a club in the other pool.

Round 1 – Sunday March 3

Gloucestershire All Golds v Hemel Stags
North Wales Crusaders v Oldham
Rochdale Hornets v Gateshead Thunder
South Wales Scorpions v London Skolars

Round 2 – Sunday March 10

Gateshead Thunder v North Wales Crusaders
Gloucestershire All Golds v South Wales Scorpions
London Skolars v Hemel Stags
Oldham v Rochdale

Round 3 – Sunday March 17

Hemel Stags v South Wales Scorpions
London Skolars v Gloucestershire All Golds
North Wales Crusaders v Rochdale Hornets
Oldham v Gateshead Thunder (3.00pm)

Round 4 – Sunday March 24

Gateshead Thunder v Gloucestershire All Golds
Hemel Stags v North Wales Crusaders

Rochdale Hornets v London Skolars
South Wales v Oldham

Weekend of May 18-19– Northern Rail Cup play-offs
Weekend of June 15-16 – Northern Rail Cup quarter-finals
Weekend of June 29-30 – Northern Rail Cup semi-finals
Saturday July 20 – Northern Rail Cup final and Northern Rail Bowl final

Details of ticket prices and availability for the 2013 Northern Rail Cup finals day at The Shay, Halifax, on Saturday July 20 will be announced in the next few weeks.

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