New fixture plan for Challenge Cup

Rugby League?s oldest and most prestigious knockout tournament, the Challenge Cup, has a re-worked fixture format for the 2007 season.

The tournament will be played over eight rounds with the Final being staged on Saturday, August 25.

In a re-constituted first round there will be 54 entrants from the Community game with the bulk of them coming from the British Amateur Rugby League Association?s flagship National Conference League.

The 27 winners from the first round, plus a club from the Russian Rugby League, will contest the second round while the third round will contain the 14 second round winners together with the 22 National League One and Two clubs, three French clubs and another Russian club.

All 12 engage Super League clubs, including Catalans Dragons, and the 20 third round winners will contest the fourth round ties in a round of 32.

The first round is scheduled for the weekend of February 3-4 while the second round will be played on the weekend of February 24-25. The Third Round will be played on the weekend of March 10-11; the fourth round on the weekend of March 31-April 1; the fifth round on the weekend of May 12-13; the Quarter Finals on the weekend of June 9-10 and the Semi Finals on the weekend of July 28-29.

Nigel Wood, the RFL?s Chief Operating Officer, said: ?We believe that the re-shaped format for the early rounds reflects the current development of our community game and affords players from that sector the opportunity to connect with that something special the Challenge Cup offers each year?.

Spen Allison, chairman of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, said: ?It?s a major honour for amateur clubs to be included in this historic tournament and we are delighted to support the RFL concerning the revamped fixture formula?.