The AB Sundecks 1895 Cup will have a fresh look in its second season, with three Community clubs from the National Conference League Premier Division joining 17 from Betfred Championship and League 1 for a second opportunity in 2020 to reach a Wembley Final.
The NCL champions West Hull will join York Acorn and Underbank Rangers – who are both still alive and kicking in the Coral Challenge Cup – in the First Round draw which will be held in Cumbria on March 18.
They will be joined by five clubs from Betfred League 1, all in the knowledge that four wins would secure a trip to Wembley on Saturday July 18 – Barrow Raiders, Doncaster, Keighley Cougars, Newcastle Thunder and Rochdale Hornets.
As last year, the 12 Betfred Championship clubs who have entered the competition have been given a bye to the Second Round, where they will be joined by the four First Round winners – and this year the Second Round draw will also be held on March 18, in the beautiful surroundings of the Ullswater Heights Leisure Resort, to allow clubs more time to plan their fixtures.
The First Round ties are scheduled for the weekend of April 18-19, with the eight Second Round ties to be played in midweek, in the week starting April 27.
The Quarter Finals will be played in the week starting May 11, with both Semi Finals on Sunday June 7 – and the Final again at Wembley Stadium on Coral Challenge Cup Final Day (July 18), but this year being played ahead of the Coral Challenge Cup Final, with a midday kick-off.
Mark Foster, the Chief Commercial Officer of the Rugby Football League, said: “We’ve been delighted by the positive reaction to the announcement of the new kick-off time for the Final of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Wembley Stadium on July 18.
“The competition was introduced last year to give non-Super League clubs a second chance to earn a trip to Wembley, and it’s great to see three Community clubs who have already made a big impact in the Coral Challenge Cup this season – Underbank Rangers, West Hull and York Acorn – getting involved.
“Sheffield Eagles and Widnes Vikings were the first two clubs to earn a trip to Wembley last year, and you only had to watch their semi final victories over Batley and Leigh respectively, or the memorable quarter final performances produced by Barrow, Doncaster and York, to see that the competition had gripped the imagination of players, coaches and supporters.
“We’ll again be showing a game from each round on Our League, as well as both Semi Finals.
“We appreciate that playing the Second Round and the Quarter Finals in midweek is challenging, especially for players. But before introducing this new competition last year we discussed all options with the Clubs and it was agreed that it would be unavoidable given the demands of our other competitions. We hope the players and supporters feel that it’s worthwhile for the chance of a trip to Wembley.”
AB Sundecks 1895 Cup
First Round (draw March 18, ties to be played on weekend of April 18-19): Barrow Raiders, Doncaster, Keighley Cougars, Newcastle Thunder, Rochdale Hornets, Underbank Rangers, West Hull, York Acorn.
Second Round (draw March 18, ties to be played week starting April 27): Four First Round winners plus Batley Bulldogs, Bradford Bulls, Dewsbury Rams, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax, Leigh Centurions, Oldham, Sheffield Eagles, Swinton Lions, Whitehaven, Widnes Vikings, York City Knights.
Quarter Finals: Week starting May 11
Semi Finals: Sunday June 7
Final: Saturday July 18, Wembley Stadium (Midday kick-off).