Challenge Cup Preview: Rugby League's Most Famous Competition Kicks Off New Season

The road to the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup Final gets underway with round one this weekend
17:35, 13 Jan 2022

Even though it may be set to take place under the cockerel of Tottenham rather than the arch of Wembley, there is the usual sense of palpable excitement as the road to the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup Final gets underway this weekend. 

The oldest and most famous rugby league competition in the world kicks off the new season, and with that comes the welcome return of 28 Community Clubs to the Betfred Challenge Cup, having missed out in 2021 due to the pandemic. 

Of the 14 first round ties, three will be available to stream online, across the BBC, OurLeague, and right here on The Sportsman. 

On Saturday afternoon, we’ll be bringing all of the action from Mayfield Sports Centre as Rochdale Mayfield take on Wigan St Pats

Both of these proud clubs have a rich history of producing players who have gone on to be stars in the professional game, George Williams (Wigan) and Matty Ashton (Warrington) being two prime examples from the Betfred Super League, might we see another hidden gem announce themselves on Saturday?

This game will also see the return of rugby league royalty, as Wigan, Salford and Great Britain (to name a few) legend Andy Gregory takes charge of Wigan St Pats in his first game as Head Coach. 

Gregory won this competition five times as a player, making eight finals, and will no doubt be eyeing up more Betfred Challenge Cup success as he takes the helm of his new side for the first time on Saturday. 

Another community club, in the form of either Acton or West Hull awaits the winner in the second round, so whoever comes out on top at Mayfield Sports Centre will be fancying a decent cup run in 2022. 

This game is available to watch live and exclusive on TheSportsman’s Rugby League youtube channel, from 2pm.

Prior to this, live across BBC Sport online, Orrell St James will play host to the British Army Rugby League side at Bankes Avenue. 

The Army are one of three Armed Forces in this year's competition, with the Navy and the Royal Air Force also taking part in the first round. A victory for the Army could see a historic second round clash with the Navy.  

On Sunday, rugby league fans will be able to tune in via the OurLeague App as Bentley host Stanningley in a Yorkshire derby. 

Again, this is a cup clash between two stalwarts of the community games, with Stanningley boasting the likes of Jamie Peacock and Jamie Jones-Buchanan amongst their alumni. 

Whilst we are unlikely to see the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup winner in these early rounds, they do symbolise everything that is great about rugby league at a community level, as well as presenting some of our sports most valuable communities to make their own history in what is undoubtedly the most fabled rugby league competition on earth. 

Strap yourselves in, the 2022 season is ready for launch...

Betfred Challenge Cup first round in full: 

West Hull vs Upton, Featherstone Lions vs Hunslet Club Parkside, Leigh Miners Rangers vs Milford, Siddal vs Great Britain Police, Lock Lane vs Thatto Heath Crusaders, London Chargers vs Ellenborough Rangers, Thornhill Trojans vs RAF, Jarrow Vikings vs Wests Warriors, Galway Tribesmen vs Pilkington Recs (at Pilkington Recs), Edinburgh Eagles vs York Acorn, Rochdale Mayfield vs Wigan St Patricks, Bentley vs Stanningley, Bridgend Blue Bulls vs Royal Navy, Orrell St James vs British Army.

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