We have picked out six good reasons why the Challenge Cup semi-final double header at Bolton will work effectively.
It was announced on Wednesday by the Rugby Football League that the 2018 Challenge Cup semi-finals will be played as a double header at Macron Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers FC, on Sunday August 5.
Double header makes it an event
The fact that it’s a double header makes the both semi-final ties an event and that is great for the clubs involved and the sport in general.
It will have a feel of Magic Weekend or a final, which will generate more income for clubs due to them having more tickets sold. You will even see neutral fans attend the Macron Stadium, who do not support any of the involved teams, but they are going because it’s a spectacle and they can make a day of it.
Bolton is near the heartlands, but a grey area
The Macron Stadium in Bolton is very close to the rugby league heartlands, which many people will be pleased about because it makes it more accessible for the majority of teams.
But even though Bolton is only 15 minutes away from Wigan, it is an unknown destination for rugby league. There are few rugby league clubs in Bolton but the Macron Stadium is no stranger to rugby league, having staged three World Club Challenge matches and three international Test matches there between 1998 and 2007.
But the fact that Bolton is a bit of a grey area in terms of rugby league is good. The semi-finals may attract some fans from the town and get them more involved with the sport. The location can only be a good thing.
Ticket prices are affordable
Another good thing about the semi-final double header at Bolton is that the tickets are very affordable for all fans.
Tickets for the double header start at £25 for adults and £12.50 for adults, which, when you think about it, is brilliant because you get to watch two games of knockout rugby league.
Also, season ticket holders for the four semi-finalist clubs will go on sale on Wednesday, June 6, with the club season ticket holders being entitled to a £4 discount in all categories. A nice touch from the Rugby Football League.
Five hours of rugby league coverage on national TV
There has been a lot of people slating the sport’s media coverage in the last year or so, but we certainly cannot complain with the coverage of the semi-finals.
Every minute of the action in both games will be shown live on the BBC, which is national television, of course. The games will no doubt see millions of viewers tune in to watch the four teams battle it out for a place in the iconic Challenge Cup final.
There will be over five hours of rugby league shown on national television on Sunday, August 5.
The event could take Challenge Cup to next level
For a number of years now, the topic of ‘has the Challenge Cup lost its magic?’ comes up quite a lot in a discussion about rugby league.
Whether it has or it hasn’t, the semi-final double header could notch the historic tournament to a higher gear than what it is currently. If the event is sell-out then there would be no season why not to make it an annual thing.
Just look at the reaction on social media. Fans love the idea and are buzzing to visit the Macron Stadium.
Kick-off times are a big positive
The RFL and BBC have planned the kick-off times very well. The first semi-final will kick off at 12:30pm with the second game getting underway at 2:45pm.
The times are great because it’s not too early to ask fans to travel and it’s not too late, so the supporters with young children will arrive home at a decent time.
It’s looking like it is going to be a brilliant weekend!