Betfred Challenge Cup Final: Write Off Leigh Leopard-Print Madness At Your Peril

The former Centurions are favourites to win at Wembley on Saturday
07:00, 11 Aug 2023

At this point, Derek Beaumont can get away with pretty much anything.

In October 2022, when he announced that his newly promoted Leigh Centurions would rebrand as the Leigh Leopards and wear a kit which displayed an appropriation of the new mascot across the chest, trimmed with white and gold, there was push-back. Leythers wanted at least a hint of their traditional red and white to be retained.

So back to the drawing board went the owner and his staff and they came back with a redrawn version with red trim and shorts. Stick in a new razzmatazz around home matchdays at the Leigh Sports Village and a squad packed with star names, and Beaumont had most of the dissenters on board.


When they head to Wembley on Saturday for their first Betfred Challenge Cup final in 52 years, there will be around 1,000 Leigh fans wearing the special edition gold and black leopard-face shirt that has been commissioned for the big day and is even further removed from tradition than the original design from last October. As we said, Beaumont can get away with almost anything right now.

And that’s because of what has happened on the field in 2023. Leigh were not “tipped by everybody to go down” as some commentators would have you believe – most were correctly predicting a long season for Wakefield Trinity – but they were nailed on for a bottom-three finish.

Instead, they arrive in London on Saturday for their biggest game in half a century as a third-placed side being earmarked for a Grand Final appearance in October. The impact has been incredible, to the point where Leigh could well be lifting the Challenge Cup on Saturday wearing a kit that a Castleford Tigers fan might once have bought off a street corner, and yet nobody will care less.

But for all of Beaumont’s bold manoeuvres away from the field – and ‘bold’ is putting it mildly – it is the work that coach Adrian Lam and his team have done within the lines that has done the heavy lifting in terms of bringing fans along on the journey.

Their form has been nothing short of sensational, the best displayed by a team coming up from the second tier in the summer era, based around the performances of Lam’s son Lachlan at scrum-half and influential forwards John Asiata and Edwin Ipape. The input of backs such as Gareth O’Brien, Tom Briscoe, Josh Charnley and Ricky Leutele – all of them overlooked by bigger-name clubs – has also been fundamental.


They’ve already beaten their cup final opponents twice this season and go into the game as favourites as a result. Their last-gasp 30-25 win away to Hull Kingston Rovers in round three was their first of the season, and only their second in 37 games on the road in their Super League history. And when the Robins arrived at LSV in June they were sent packing in a one-sided 34-4 Leigh win which was about as convincing as the Leopards have been in the whole of 2023.

This is a side which has long since proved that they need to be taken seriously, even if that is difficult given that their attire from week to week is a reflection of their owner’s latest off-the-wall idea. Challenge Cup success would be a fair reward for the impact the Leopards have had in an increasingly brilliant Betfred Super League season.

In a league which has just seen Warrington Wolves react to Justin Holbrook’s last-minute rejection by appointing an unproven Sam Burgess as head coach, why shouldn’t a well-coached, hard-working, flair-filled team walk off with the Challenge Cup and push for Grand Final success over the next couple of months?

Write off Leigh – and Derek Beaumont – at your peril.


*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change

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