Red Star Belgrade confirmed in Challenge Cup but no Toronto or Toulouse

James Gordon

Red Star Belgrade will be included in the draw for the first round of the 2019 Challenge Cup, which takes place next Friday at Emerald Headingley.

Part of the club that won football’s European Cup in 1991, Red Star have been playing rugby league since 2006 and recently retained their Serbian Championship title.

Their inclusion means that six different countries will be represented in the competition – England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Serbia.

Colin Kleyweg, the chairman of Red Star Belgrade Rugby League, said: “Red Star Belgrade are so proud to be a part of the 2019 Challenge Cup. This is a huge day for rugby league in Serbia and for all expanding nations that nurture local talent and local players.”

Their application was accepted by the RFL on the basis they must play away in rounds one and two.

The Serbian champions will be joined by 51 sides from across the community game in Round One with ties to be played over the weekend of January 26-27.

But Championship sides Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique won’t be taking part.

The Wolfpack had participated in each of the past two seasons, winning two games each year before bowing out to Super League opposition in the shape of Salford in 2017 and Warrington in 2018, but follow the lead of the French side, who didn’t take part last year.

The other 12 Betfred Championship sides join in round four, with the Betfred League 1 sides joining in round three.

Four Super League clubs – Hull KR, Leeds, London and Salford – will enter in round five in April, before the top eight join in round six.

Wales, Scotland and Ireland are represented by Torfaen Tigers, Edinburgh Eagles and Longhorns respectively – with Longhorns, from Leinster, included for the second year running.

National Conference League Premier Division champions Hunslet Club Parkside are joined by 30 other teams from across the NCL divisions – including Kells and Normanton Knights, who both reached the Fourth Round of the 2018 Challenge Cup.

There are four clubs from the south of England: Hammersmith Hills Hoists and London Chargers, who came head to head in Round One in 2018; the All Golds from the West of England League; and North Herts Crusaders, the East League champions who will be making their Challenge Cup debut.

The North West Men’s League and Yorkshire Men’s League each have two representatives: Bentley and Batley Boys from Yorkshire; and Orrell St James and Haydock from the North West. Distington, who enjoyed a successful cup run in 2018 before falling to Betfred League 1 side Coventry Bears in Round Three, will again join the Cumbrian challenge, and Wallsend Eagles will fly the flag for the North East.

Teams from each of the Armed Services – the Army, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – will be joined by the British Police team in the draw.

The final will take place at Wembley on Saturday August 24.

BBC Sport will once again select one fixture from Round One through to Round Five for live-streaming via the BBC Sport website. The selected game from Round One will be announced in due course following the draw.

The full list of 52 clubs who will be in the draw is: All Golds, Army, Batley Boys, Bentley, Beverley, Bradford Dudley Hill, British Police, Clock Face Miners, Crosfields, Dewsbury Moor, Distington, Drighlington, East Leeds, Edinburgh Eagles, Featherstone Lions, Hammersmith Hills Hoists, Haydock, Hunslet Club Parkside, Hunslet Warriors, Kells, Leigh East, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, London Chargers, Longhorns, Milford Marlins, Millom, Normanton Knights, North Herts Crusaders, Orrell St James, Oulton Raiders, Ovenden, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Red Star Belgrade, Rochdale Mayfield, Shaw Cross Sharks, Siddal, Skirlaugh, Stanningley, Thatto Heath, Thornhill Trojans, Torfaen Tigers, Underbank Rangers, Wallsend Eagles, Wath Brow Hornets, West Bowling, West Hull, Wigan St Judes, Wigan St Patricks, Woolston Rovers, York Acorn