South Wales Jets are delighted to have been drawn at home in the first round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, with their tie against Stanningley from Leeds to be played on Saturday 13 January 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 their first round match will be the 100th in the men’s 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.
As an entirely self-funded team consisting of both rugby union and league players, including former League One players from the now disbanded West Wales Raiders, as well as ex Welsh international Paul Emanuelli, and a set of promising youngsters, the Jets are looking forward to the opportunity to represent Welsh rugby league in the Challenge Cup, and showcase their pride of the club.
Last season, the Jets played out of Merthyr Tydfil but with the Ironmen’s ground unavailable that weekend, the club are temporarily moving to the home of the Steelmen.
Jets’ founder Liam Price said: “To be in the first round in such a prestigious competition is such an honour. To do it so early in our history is stuff dreams are made of. And to get a home draw is the icing on the cake. No matter who we drew it was going to be a a tough game. Stanningley are a very good amateur side and we will be giving them the respect they deserve. We are confident that if we can play like we know we can then another historic result is on the cards.
“We’d like to thank Ebbw Vale for hosting us, especially to Andrea Smart for making this happen. Plans are in motion to make it a big event in South Wales it’s not often the Betfred Challenge Cup comes to town so we need to take the opportunity to try and promote rugby league in South Wales and hopefully we can put on a decent show.”
The draws for rounds 1 and 2 of the 2024 Betfred Challenge Cup were made on Tuesday night at BBC Radio Manchester’s MediaCity HQ by three-time Challenge Cup winner Josh Charnley from cup holders Leigh Leopards.
Twenty clubs from the community and Armed Forces went into the hat for Round 1, with two of the three Forces teams – the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy – drawn against one another in what promises to be one of the highlights of Round 1.
Round 1 draw (ties to be played on the weekend of 13/14 January)
Fryston Warriors v British Army
Lowca v Edinburgh Eagles
South Wales Jets v Stanningley
Royal Air Force v Royal Navy
Doncaster Toll Bar v Ashton Bears
Orrell St James v Haresfinch
Clock Face Miners v Heworth
Oulton Raiders v West Bowling
Hammersmith Hills Hoists v Medway Dragons
Wests Warriors v Newsome Panthers
The winners of the 10 Round 1 ties will be joined at Round 2 by 10 clubs from the National Conference League – and the draw for Round 2 has already thrown up some fascinating ties.
If the Jets win, they’ll be on the road, and will tackle Leigh Miners Rangers, who hosted North Wales Crusaders in the second round just two seasons ago.
Round 2 draw (ties to be played on the weekend of 27/28 January)
Orrell St James or Haresfinch v York Acorn
Royal Air Force or Royal Navy v Thatto Heath Crusaders
Leigh Miners Rangers v South Wales Jets or Stanningley
Fryston Warriors or British Army v Hunslet ARLFC
Doncaster Toll Bar or Ashton Bears v West Hull
Clock Face Miners or Heworth v Siddal
Wests Warriors or Newsome Panthers v Rochdale Mayfield
Hammersmith Hills Hoists or Medway Dragons v Oulton Raiders or West Bowling
Lock Lane v Lowca or Edinburgh Eagles
Hull Dockers v Wath Brow Hornets
BBC Sport will select one tie from each of the rounds, which will be streamed live on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and app.
The 10 Round 2 winners be joined at Round 3 by 22 semi-professional clubs from the Betfred Championship and Betfred League One, fixtures taking place over the weekend of 10/11 February.
The Men’s 2024 Betfred Challenge Cup is part of a Finals Day triple-header at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 8 June, alongside the final of the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup. Tickets are available online now at rugby-league.com/tickets from only £15 Adults and £7.50 Under 16s, with family packages also available starting from just £18.75 for one Adult and two Under 16s.