The Rugby Football League have agreed an historic commercial partnership with Coral to include both the men’s and women’s Challenge Cups in a two-year, seven-figure deal.
The two competitions will come together when the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final shares the stage with the men’s semi finals in a triple header at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday July 27.
The men’s Coral Challenge Cup Final will be held at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24.
“This is a really significant day both for the Challenge Cup, and for women’s Rugby League,” said Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive.
“The men’s Challenge Cup is one of the iconic competitions and trophies of British sport, with more than 120 years of history, and the famous Wembley final televised live to the nation and the world by the BBC.
“The Women’s Challenge Cup may not have that history, but Coral’s enthusiasm for it to be part of a joint sponsorship deal confirms our determination that it is set for a really exciting future.
“With Coral’s name now linked to both the men’s and women’s Challenge Cups, it’s equally exciting to be able to extend the double header for the men’s semi finals that proved such a big hit last year, and now incorporate the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final.
“The University of Bolton Stadium proved a popular venue for the sold-out double header last summer, so we’re delighted to be going back for a triple header in 2019.
“We are confident that thousands of the supporters of the teams who reach the semi finals of the men’s Coral Challenge Cup will also take the opportunity to watch the outstanding spectacle provided by our best women’s teams – and that will ensure their skills and athleticism are seen by the record audience they deserve.”
Adrian Osman, the Head of Sponsorship and Events at Coral, said: “The Rugby League Challenge Cup and the final at Wembley are flagship events in British sport, and we are delighted that Coral’s name will now be associated with them in this significant deal. In addition, the opportunity to get involved with women’s sport and the development of women’s Rugby League as the first title sponsors of the Women’s Challenge Cup is hugely exciting for us – and combining the final with the semi finals of the Coral Challenge Cup should produce another great event. We’re really looking forward to seeing the two competitions unfold through the spring and summer.”
Leeds Rhinos are the Women’s Challenge Cup holders, having beaten Castleford Tigers in a classic final at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium last summer.
The RFL also confirmed today that the 2018 Wembley winners Catalans Dragons will defend the Coral Challenge Cup, after reaching an agreement with the French club to end recent uncertainty about their participation.
They will enter the competition at the Sixth Round stage in May, having finished in the top eight of the Super League in 2018.
The teams who finished in the bottom four will enter in the Fifth Round in April.
The Road to Wembley begins this weekend, with 52 community clubs competing in First-Round ties from Portsmouth to Wallsend, and featuring Sunday’s meeting on the Cumbrian coast between the oldest amateur club in the country, Millom, and the Challenge Cup newcomers Red Star Belgrade – which will be streamed live on the BBC Sport online platforms.
The Trans-Pennine battle between Orrell St James and Holmfirth’s Underbank Rangers will be shown live on the RFL’s Our League membership App and Website the previous day.
Tickets for the triple header at the University of Bolton on Saturday July 27 go on sale today, and are available here.
Tickets for the Coral Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 are available here.
Coral Challenge Cup, 2019
First Round Jan 26-27, Second Round Feb 9-10, Third Round March 9-10, Fourth Round March 30-31, Fifth Round April 13-14, Sixth Round May 11-12.
Quarter Finals June 1-2.
Semi Finals – Saturday July 27, University of Bolton Stadium (triple header, also including Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final)
Final – Saturday August 24, Wembley Stadium, 230pm.
(Dates for earlier rounds of Coral Women’s Challenge Cup to be confirmed shortly)