1st April 2021, 10:20 | championship
The Betfred Championship will break new ground when the 2021 campaign kicks off this weekend – with seven matches which will be played behind closed doors because of the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, but which will all be streamed live on the RFL’s Our League platform - web and app.
For each of the seven matches, the coverage is available free of charge to season ticket holders of the home club.
Early Bird streaming passes for each of the seven matches are available for only £4.95 until the day of the game, when the price increases to £10 – meaning time is running out to take the Early Bird offer for the three Good Friday fixtures.
Day and Weekend Passes are also available for £15 or £20 – the latter meaning it’s possible to watch all seven games for less than £3 each, either live or through Our League's full match replays.
And streaming passes are now available for Rounds Two to Four of the Betfred Championship, from April 17 – May 2 – again at the Early Bird price of £4.95, with Day and Weekend passes available.
To buy a pass, you have to be an Our League member – which is absolutely free.
For full details, click here.
The action begins on Good Friday evening with Halifax hosting London Broncos in their first league fixture as the Panthers (5pm kick-off), and a traditional Easter derby between Oldham and Swinton Lions (515pm) – their second meeting in a week, after the Lions dumped Oldham out of the Betfred Challenge Cup last weekend.
That will be followed by another rapid rematch between two teams who faced each other in the Cup last weekend, as Featherstone Rovers again host Batley Bulldogs (730pm).
There are two more fixtures on Easter Saturday evening, with a first match of 2021 for the highly-fancied Toulouse Olympique who will be the first league visitors to York’s new LNER Stadium (430pm) – before Dewsbury Rams aim to take revenge for the Challenge Cup defeat they suffered at Whitehaven two weeks ago (730pm).
Then on Easter Sunday, with the second round of Betfred Super League fixtures completed, the Championship has the stage to itself, with two intriguing fixtures featuring all manner of reunions.
At 1245pm, John Kear’s Bradford Bulls will face a Sheffield Eagles team coached by Mark Aston – who won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match when Kear steered the Eagles to their famous Wembley victory over Wigan in 1998.
Then at 515pm, Simon Finnigan’s first league game as head coach of the Widnes Vikings will be in the North East against the Championship newcomers Newcastle Thunder, the club he left to join Widnes last year – and whose coach Eamon O’Carroll and director of rugby Denis Betts both have such strong links to the Vikings.
Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “The Easter weekend is always special for Rugby League fans, and despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19, this year is no different.
“After two fantastic weekends of action in the Betfred Challenge Cup, now the focus for the 14 Betfred Championship clubs switches to the launch of the league campaign – and there’s so much to look forward to in the competition this year, with an ambitious new club in Newcastle Thunder, a superb new stadium in York, and big-name signings across the board.
“As we drive these competitions forward, it is also a landmark weekend for Our League, with all seven matches available either free to season ticket holders of the home clubs, or on a Pay Per View basis. This not only gives this fabulous competition the platform it deserves but also allows the Championship clubs to offer more value to their season ticket holders, and raise some of the much-needed revenue they would otherwise miss out on for behind closed doors matches.
“The clubs have shown a real collegiate spirit in offering Early Bird, Day and Weekend passes at great value prices – and with all seven matches scheduled to avoid clashing with the Betfred Super League fixtures live on Sky Sports, there’s an opportunity for fans of all clubs at all levels to watch some fantastic action this Easter.”