10th January 2020, 09:00 | ChallengeCup
This weekend sees the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup get underway with 44 community and representative sides entering the competition to make up one of the most anticipated and exciting round of fixtures in the Rugby League calendar.
Two fixtures will be broadcast on BBC Sport and Our League, respectively, with an all-Yorkshire National Conference League affair kicking proceedings off on Saturday afternoon as Skirlaugh welcome Hunslet Club Parkside.
Parkside made Round Three of the competition back in 2018 when they also won the NCL Premier Division title following an unbeaten season. As for Skirlaugh, they are currently in Division One of the NCL and will be looking to cause an upset on home turf this weekend.
The Our League offering on Sunday afternoon sees the Royal Air Force welcome Bentley in one of the most intriguing ties of the round. The RAF – who will play at Cranwell - are one of three Armed Forces sides in Round One but will face stiff competition against the Doncaster-based side who were crowned Yorkshire Men’s League champions in 2019.
In similar fashion, fellow Armed Forces side the Royal Navy face a tough trip to North West Men’s League Champions West Bank Nears while the British Army host Oulton Raiders, who currently compete in Division One of the NCL.
In addition to three Armed Forces sides, there are four countries represented in the First Round of this year’s Coral Challenge Cup.
For the first time ever, Wales will have four teams in this year’s competition with Torfaen Tigers and debutants Rhondda Outlaws on the road in the First Round. League 1 sides North Wales Crusaders and West Wales Raiders will join in Round Three bringing the Welsh representation to four.
Edinburgh Eagles have the luxury of a home tie in Round One welcoming Coral Challenge Cup debutants Ashton Bears to the Scottish capital. The Eagles have progressed to the Second Round on two occasions but will need to overcome the 2019 North West Men’s League Grand Finalists if they are to move to the next stage this season.
Ireland will also feature in Round One thanks to Longhorns who face a difficult journey to Normanton Knights of NCL Division Two. Longhorns featured in last year’s competition but are still aiming to become the first Irish side to make Round Two of the tournament.
Thatto Heath Crusaders were the success story of the 2019 Coral Challenge Cup progressing all the way to Round Five and they’ll begin their 2020 campaign at Thornhill Trojans.
Elsewhere, there is a repeat of the 2019 Harry Jepson Trophy Final between Sherwood Wolf Hunt and Wests Warriors, North East Champions Jarrow Vikings will make their Coral Challenge Cup bow against Upton while London Chargers and Bedford Tigers make trips to Rochdale Mayfield and Distington, respectively.
Coral Challenge Cup First Round in full:
Saturday 11 January
Skirlaugh v Hunslet Club Parkside
York Acorn v Hammersmith Hills Hoists
Rochdale Mayfield v London Chargers
Edinburgh Eagles v Ashton Bears
Underbank Rangers v Lock Lane
West Bank Bears v Royal Navy
Featherstone Lions v West Bowling
Barrow Island v Rhondda Outlaws
Pilkington Recs v West Hull
Thornhill Trojans v Thatto Heath Crusaders
Siddal v Saddleworth Rangers
Wigan St Patricks v Dewsbury Moor
Distington v Bedford Tigers
Milford v Wigan St Judes
Upton v Jarrow Vikings
Leigh Miners Rangers v Stanningley
British Army v Oulton Raiders
Ince Rose Bridge v East Hull
Sunday 12 January
Normanton Knights v Longhorns
Sherwood Wolf Hunt v Wests Warriors
RAF v Bentley
Great Britain Police v Torfaen Tigers