A place in the Northern Rail Finals Day at The Shay on July 20 will be the ultimate goal for the eight clubs who kick off the group stages of the 2013 Northern Rail Cup this weekend.
All eight clubs will set their sights on a coveted place in the Northern Rail Cup final but will also be in contention to contest the inaugural Northern Rail Bowl final, which will feature the two highest ranked Kingstone Press Championship One clubs.
The opening fixtures of the 2013 Northern Rail Cup see Hemel Stags and University of Gloucestershire All Golds compete in the professional ranks for the first time when they go head-to-head on Sunday March 3.
They will be joined by Gateshead Thunder, London Skolars, North Wales Crusaders, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets and South Wales Scorpions competing in two groups, with the top side in each group set to progress to a knock-out round of 16 where they will join all 14 Kingstone Press Championship clubs in May.
“The Northern Rail Cup has firmly established itself as one of the sport’s most entertaining competitions and has as a prize a trophy that all Championship players want to get their hands on,” said RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer.
“The competition has treated us to some memorable and dramatic action during the past few years and recent finals have been among the most exciting games of recent times.
“The re-structured group stages have added an extra element to the competition and promise to make for an increasingly competitive competition from start to finish. I look forward to watching the action unfold during the coming weeks.
“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!”
The 2013 Northern Rail Cup Groups are as follows:
*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.
All 14 Kingstone Press Championship sides enter the competition during the first knock-out stage which will be played on the weekend of May 18/19.
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.