Former Wales internationals Ben Flower and Lloyd White are taking charge of South Wales Jets this Saturday as they host Stanningley in the first round of men’s Betfred Rugby League Challenge Cup at Ebbw Vale RFC (kick-off 1.30pm).
The Jets beat all-comers in the domestic season this year to qualify for the tournament and this match will be the 100th in the men’s Challenge Cup competition to feature a Welsh side.
It will be a historic day for Ebbw Vale, as when they were a professional rugby league side from 1907-12, they were never drawn at home in the Challenge Cup. They played six matches during that time in the competition and were always drawn away from home. Finally, in this 100th game, Eugene Cross Park, now named the Ciner Glass Community Stadium, gets to host a Challenge Cup match.
Should they win, then they’ll be in the second round of the competition a fortnight later, facing Leigh Miners Rangers away, with the final to be at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 8 June.
Flower, who won the Cup win Wigan Warriors in 2013, said: “I’ve a lot of friends in the South Wales Jets side, and I wanted to get back to coaching a local side to pass my knowledge on the best I can. Hopefully they’ll go on to do well in the game. I’ve been part of this historic event at the end when I was with Wigan and now I’m involved at the start in my native South Wales. I wanted to be part of that again. It’s the first time that Jets have been in the Challenge Cup so they’re making history.”
White adds: “Since moving down, I’ve not been involved quite as much as I’d have liked to. Ben gave me a call and the opportunity came around to help the Jets and we both jumped at it. The Jets are a really good side already, I didn’t know what to expect when I came down but the standard is pretty good all round. Their knowledge of the game is good and hopefully with the experience Ben and I bring, we can tweak a few things and hopefully get that win on Saturday.”
Admission to the match at Ebbw Vale RFC costs £5 for adults, U15s free.
The match is the first half of a big weekend for rugby league in South Wales with Wales Wheelchair taking on The Army on Sunday at Cwmbran Stadium (kick-off 1.30pm) to complete things. Admission to that game is free of charge.