Welsh clubs find out their Challenge Cup opponents

Cardiff Demons, the first Welsh side to ever enter the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, will take on Wigan Warriors, Salford Red Devils and Featherstone Rovers in the group stages, with matches to be played April 22/23, May 6/7 and 20/21.

The Demons have won the Betfred Women’s Super League South competition for the past two years and this will be their first 13-a-side matches against sides from the main Super League competition, having played some in the Nines format in 2022. The fixture dates will be announced soon.

In the men’s Betfred Challenge Cup, Rhondda Outlaws, last year’s South Wales Men’s League champions, travel to National Conference League (NCL) Premier side Hull Dockers in the first round, which will be played on the weekend of February 11/12. If they win that game, they’ll host Betfred League 1 side Midlands Hurricanes in the second round, which will be played on the weekend of February 25/26.

Also in the second round, North Wales Crusaders will host either the Royal Navy or NCL2 side Barrow Island, both of whom have faced Welsh clubs in the Cup in recent years.

It’s only the second time the Outlaws have been in the Challenge Cup having played lost away in 2020 in the first round at Barrow Island. North Wales Crusaders were the last remaining League 1 side in last year’s competition when they lost at home to Sheffield Eagles.

Demons’ head coach Ian Newbury said: “We’re really excited following this draw. It’s going to be a competitive group. This is our opportunity to test ourselves against three “heartland sides” and see where we sit. Both Salford and Wigan have faces we recognise – Matt Drinkwater, the Wales Dragonhearts coach is in charge of Salford, whilst Carys Marsh plays for Wigan, so it will be good to see them out there.

“We will be working hard towards these games. We aren’t just turning up to make up numbers – we have every intention to make a run at the Challenge Cup.”

Outlaws chairman James Allen said: “It’s a really great achievement for us to be in the Challenge Cup. It’s something the boys are really excited about, there are a few new players since we first played in the competition. We were hoping for a home draw but we’ll take what we have. We’ll prepare well and we’ll give it all we have.

“Our player numbers are growing every year, our age grades are also growing every year with most clubs having a few sides at age-grade – I think all in Wales is going really well.”

Crusaders chairman Ian Edwards said: “It’s fantastic to have a home draw and this should bring a good crowd to Colwyn Bay to watch. Whoever we face, the Royal Navy or Barrow Island, will be tough, so we’ll need to be on top of our game to reach the third round.”

With 95 matches played in the men’s Challenge Cup so far by Welsh sides, the 100th game could be reached this season.

Many Welsh internationals have lifted the men’s Challenge Cup. Please see a full list at https://wrl.wales/welsh-internationals-who-have-won-the-cup.

The draws were made at Wembley Stadium on Thursday, which is where both finals will be held on Saturday 12 August.

Women’s Competition
Group Stages
Group 1 – Featherstone Rovers, Salford Red Devils, Cardiff Demons, Wigan Warriors
Group 2 – Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls, Oulton Raidettes, Leeds Rhinos
Group 3 – Warrington Wolves – Castleford Tigers, London Broncos, St Helens
Group 4 – Barrow Raiders, Leigh Leopards, Hull Kingston Rovers, York Valkyrie

Men’s Competition
First round draw
Fryston Warriors v Thornhill Trojans
Featherstone Lions v Great Britain Police
Skirlaugh v Wests Warriors
Hull Dockers v Rhondda Outlaws
London Chargers v North Herts Crusaders
Doncaster Toll Bar v Royal Air Force
Hammersmith Hills Hoists v Dublin City Exiles
Brentwood Eels v Bedford Tigers
Stanningley v Milford
Royal Navy v Barrow Island
West Bowling v Waterhead
Westgate Common v Crosfields
British Army v Ashton Bears
Edinburgh Eagles v Saddleworth Rangers
Wigan St Patricks v Ince Rose Bridge
Distington v Orrell St James
Heworth v Oulton Raiders
Jarrow Vikings v Myton Warriors

Second round draw
Jarrow Vikings/Myton Warriors v Leigh Miners Rangers
Skirlaugh/Wests Warriors v London Chargers/North Herts Crusaders
Hull Dockers/Rhondda Outlaws v Midlands Hurricanes
British Army/Ashton Bears v Dewsbury Rams
Fryston Warriors/Thornhull Trojans v Stanningley/Milford
Workington Town v Wigan St Patricks/Ince Rose Bridge
Rochdale Hornets v London Skolars
Distington/Orrell St James v Hammersmith Hills Hoists/Dublin City Exiles
Cornwall v Rochdale Mayfield
Hunslet v Heworth/Oulton Raiders
Siddal v West Hull
Brentwood Eels/Bedford Tigers v Wash Brow Hornets
North Wales Crusaders v Royal Navy/Barrow Island
Doncaster Toll Bar/Royal Air Force v York Acorn
Lock Lane v West Bowling/Waterhead
Featherstone Lions/Great Britain Police v Westgate Common/Crosfields
Hunslet v Pilkington Recs
Doncaster v Oldham
Edinburgh Eagles/Saddleworth Rangers v Thatto Heath Crusaders