The full fixture list has been revealed today for Betfred Championship and League 1, as well as the news that Golden Point Extra Time will be available in all fixtures across the divisions next season – but with a different twist.
When a game is level at the sounding of the final hooter, each team will take one point for earning a draw – with a third competition point then made available to the first team to score in two five-minute periods of extra time.
The Golden Point will be available for the first time in the Betfred Championship on the weekend of January 31 – February 2.
The season starts for the Betfred Championship under the Friday night lights at the Tetley’s Stadium, as Dewsbury Rams host Leigh Centurions.
York City Knights, who made such a positive impression in the competition last season following their promotion from Betfred League 1, open up with a tough away trip to Toulouse Olympique – who will be playing all their home matches at Stade Ernest Wallon.
York will also be moving to their new stadium in the early stages of the season after test events in January, with further details to be confirmed by the club in the coming weeks.
The remaining five matches in the opening round are scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday February 2 and include home fixtures for the two teams promoted from Betfred League 1 last season: Oldham against Widnes Vikings, both clubs having appointed new coaches in Matt Diskin and Tim Sheens; and Whitehaven against Swinton Lions.
London Broncos begin life back in the Betfred Championship with a trip to face Bradford Bulls – who will use Dewsbury’s Tetley’s Stadium as their regular home ground in 2020 – while Featherstone Rovers, whose hopes of replacing the Broncos in the Betfred Super League were scuppered by defeat in Toronto in the 2019 Million Pound Match, will open up with a short trip to Batley.
Sheffield Eagles, who won the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Wembley in August and will launch the defence of that competition when the Championship clubs enter in late April, start their league campaign with a tricky trip to Halifax.
Betfred League 1 kicks off two weeks later, on the weekend of February 15-16, with five matches – starting on the Saturday when Newcastle Thunder, who just missed out on promotion to the Championship with defeat by Oldham in the Grand Final, begin their campaign to go one better at home to West Wales Raiders.
Two weeks later North Wales Crusaders will be the opposition for London Skolars’ first home game of the season, a rare fixture on February 29 – which will be played at Allianz Stadium, the home of rugby union’s Saracens, as a double-header with the Betfred Super League fixture between Toronto Wolfpack and St Helens.
There is another eyecatching Betfred League 1 clash on Friday May 22, when Newcastle Thunder host Doncaster at Kingston Park ahead of the return of the Betfred Super League’s Magic Weekend to St James’s Park.
Doncaster will also be involved in London Skolars’ established Friday Night Lights fixture on the eve of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup Final, at the New River Stadium on July 17 – while London Broncos are also scheduled to play a home Betfred Championship fixture that weekend, against York City Knights at their Trailfinders base on Sunday July 19, depending on the teams’ progress in the Challenge Cup and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.
The Betfred League 1 clubs play a single game over the Easter weekend, including a first Cumbrian clash of the season between Barrow and Workington Town which is scheduled for Good Friday.
The majority of the second round of the Easter programme in the Betfred Championship has been put back from the traditional Easter Monday date, at the request of the clubs, to allow players more time to recover from the Good Friday programme – which includes three derby fixtures (Batley v Dewsbury, Leigh v Widnes and Oldham v Swinton) that will be repeated at the Summer Bash weekend in Blackpool on the weekend of May 30-31.
(Full details of the 2020 Betfred Championship Summer Bash were released on Friday and be found here.)
Ralph Rimmer, the Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “2019 has been a year of significant progress for Betfred Championship and League 1, and there’s plenty more to anticipate in 2020.
“While Toronto Wolfpack were clearly big contributors to the substantial increases in attendances and viewing figures in the Championship in 2019, it’s worth noting that 12 of the 14 Championship clubs saw an increase in their average home attendance – as did seven of the 11 clubs in League 1.
“The challenge for all of us is to maintain that positive mood around the competition, and I know a good proportion of the clubs in the Betfred Championship will start the season with high hopes of securing promotion to the Super League in 2021 – just as all 11 League 1 clubs will be keen to mount a challenge for promotion to the Championship.
“London Broncos will enhance the Championship competition after winning so much admiration in the Super League last year, and so will Whitehaven and Oldham who performed so strongly to secure promotion from League 1.
“We’re also excited to announce the introduction of Golden Point in 2020, but with a twist that will be unique to Betfred Championship and League 1.
“The clubs were keen to maintain a one-point reward for teams securing a draw, in addition to providing the possibility of extra excitement in Golden Point extra time – and we hope that supporters will welcome this innovation.”
The full 2020 fixtures list for Betfred Championship and League 1 is now available here.
Full details of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup will be announced tomorrow (November 18).