The Rugby Football League today confirms that while the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup Final will be played behind closed doors for the first time in the competition’s long history, a July date has already been set for the 2021 Final at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
Salford Red Devils will look to book a place in the Final on Saturday, when they face Warrington Wolves, in a match to be shown live on BBC Two at 5pm.
Plans for a first July Challenge Cup Final in 2020 were scuppered by Covid-19, although the game’s oldest knockout competition has been rearranged since the restart of the season in August and has now reached the Semi Final stage, with the Final to be played at Wembley on Saturday October 17.
The latest Government restrictions on public gatherings mean that no spectators will be permitted for the 119th Challenge Cup Final and the 78th at Wembley – which will be shown live on BBC One from 145pm, with a 3pm kick-off and golden point extra time if the game is drawn after 80 minutes.
Advance ticket holders have been advised today that they can either claim a full refund, credit to another major Rugby League event in 2021 – or transfer their tickets to the 2021 Final, on Saturday July 17.
Tickets will go on general sale in November.
Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “In what has been such a difficult year in so many ways, the confirmation that the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup Final will be played behind closed doors is a huge disappointment, after we had done everything in our power and received such committed support from everyone involved at Wembley in our efforts to allow some fans into the stadium.
“We hope the announcement of a firm date for the Challenge Cup Final next summer will provide some compensation for Rugby League supporters, with the hope of a return to something like normality, and brighter times ahead.
“All the reasons we were looking forward to a first Challenge Cup Final in July in 2020 will hopefully still apply in 2021.
“We have been delighted by the response to our recent announcement that the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup Final will be played at Wembley, with the players and officials of all four clubs in next weekend’s Semi Finals enthused by the prospect of a special occasion even in the absence of spectators.
“In such uncertain times, it is a real positive for the game that we are now able to maintain Rugby League’s special relationship with Wembley in both 2020 and 2021 – and we would like to place on record our thanks to all at Wembley Stadium connected by EE as well as everyone involved with our broadcast partners the BBC and our main commercial partners for the competition Coral, for their patience and flexibility in recent weeks.
“Given the impact of the latest announcements from Government regarding social distancing on both the professional and the community game, it is almost certain that there will be implications for the structure of next year’s Challenge Cup. Further announcements on that will be made whenever decisions have been made.”
The Semi Finals of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup will be played at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens this Saturday (October 3), also behind closed doors, and both shown live on the BBC.
Leeds Rhinos will face Wigan Warriors in the first Semi Final kicking off at 230pm, with coverage on BBC One starting at 2pm; and that will be followed by the meeting of the holders Warrington Wolves with Salford Red Devils, kicking off at 5pm and broadcast live on BBC Two.