BBC Sport will provide another huge boost to Wheelchair Rugby League in this World Cup year by covering the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final in June – and Catalans Dragons are hoping to be there, having entered the competition for the first time.
The Final will be played at Hull’s Allam Arena on Saturday June 25, kicking off at 230pm – completing a hat-trick of Challenge Cup Finals for the BBC in 2022, as it follows the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos at Elland Road this Saturday (May 7), and the Betfred Challenge Cup Final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in May 28.
Leeds Rhinos are the holders of the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup, having beaten the Argonauts Skeleton Army from Kent in last year’s Final in Sheffield.
But this year they will face fresh challenges from three new names for the competition: Wigan Warriors, who have replaced the 2021 Super League Grand Finalists Leyland; London Roosters, who have been formed as a south-east super club; and Catalans Dragons, who will be keen to underline France’s status as favourites for the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup this autumn.
They will all join the Rhinos and four other clubs from the Wheelchair Super League - Hull FC, North Wales Crusaders, Warrington Wolves and the three-times Cup winners Halifax Panthers - in a Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Festival on Saturday May 14, also at the Allam Arena, from which the two finalists will emerge.
Martin Coyd OBE, the General Manager of England Wheelchair Rugby League, said: “We are thrilled that the BBC will again cover the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final – more fantastic exposure for the Wheelchair game as we prepare for the World Cup later this year.
“The Betfred Wheelchair Super League has gone to another level this season with the involvement of the Wigan Warriors, a new focus for the game in the south in London Roosters, and Halifax Panthers claiming some notable results.
“We are also delighted to welcome Catalans Dragons to the competition for the first time. France’s leading role in the development of Wheelchair Rugby League is a wonderful story for our sport to celebrate, and we saw with the performances of the France national team against England at Medway last autumn that they remain a formidable force, underpinned by a strong and genuinely national domestic competition.
“We are also pleased to be taking two major events in the Betfred Wheelchair Rugby League Challenge Cup to the great Rugby League city of Kingston-upon-Hull for the first time.”
The format of the Festival will see each of the eight teams play four matches, with the top four teams then qualifying for semi finals which will produce the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup finalists for 2022.
A Trophy competition will also be staged on the day with five teams from outside the Super League – Dundee Dragons, Gravesend Dynamite, Mersey Storm, Sheffield Eagles and Woodland Warriors.
*England’s Wheelchair squad have another squad session this weekend as they continue preparations for the Mid-Season International against France in Manchester on June 19, and for the World Cup this autumn.
Betfred Wheelchair Rugby League Challenge Cup 2022
Festival (May 14, Allam Arena, Hull)
Challenge Cup: Catalans Dragons, Halifax Panthers, Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos, London Roosters, North Wales Crusaders, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors.
Trophy: Dundee Dragons, Gravesend Dynamite, Mersey Storm, Sheffield Eagles, Woodland Warriors
Final – Sunday June 25, Allam Arena, Hull (230pm kick-off) – live on BBC Sport