Coral confirmed as Challenge Cup sponsors
22 January 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson
The RFL has at last managed to find someone to sponsor its flagship competition, with bookmakers Coral having inked a “two-year, seven-figure deal” to sponsor both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Coral are, of course, part of the same company as previous sponsors Ladbrokes.
The Ladbrokes Coral Group is itself now owned by GVC Holdings.
The governing body also confirmed that Catalans Dragons will now be defending the trophy, thanks to this deal being secured.
The deal is certainly very positive for the women’s game, which received another boost with the news that their Challenge Cup final will be played on a much bigger stage in 2019.
The Coral Women’s Challenge Cup final will shares the stage with the men’s semi finals, with a triple header being played at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday July 27.
Leeds are the current Women’s Challenge Cup holders.
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer felt that the news of the deal was especially positive for the women’s game.
“This is a really significant day both for the Challenge Cup, and for women’s Rugby League,” said Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive.
“The men’s Challenge Cup is one of the iconic competitions and trophies of British sport, with more than 120 years of history, and the famous Wembley final televised live to the nation and the world by the BBC.
“The Women’s Challenge Cup may not have that history, but Coral’s enthusiasm for it to be part of a joint sponsorship deal confirms our determination that it is set for a really exciting future.
“With Coral’s name now linked to both the men’s and women’s Challenge Cups, it’s equally exciting to be able to extend the double header for the men’s semi finals that proved such a big hit last year, and now incorporate the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final.
“The University of Bolton Stadium proved a popular venue for the sold-out double header last summer, so we’re delighted to be going back for a triple header in 2019.
“We are confident that thousands of the supporters of the teams who reach the semi finals of the men’s Coral Challenge Cup will also take the opportunity to watch the outstanding spectacle provided by our best women’s teams – and that will ensure their skills and athleticism are seen by the record audience they deserve.
Catalans will enter the competition in the sixth round, along with the other seven teams who finished in Super League’s top eight last season.
The four teams who contested the Middle Eights last season will join the competition in the fifth round.
“The Rugby League Challenge Cup and the final at Wembley are flagship events in British sport, and we are delighted that Coral’s name will now be associated with them in this significant deal,” said Adrian Osman, the head of Sponsorship and Events at Coral.
“In addition, the opportunity to get involved with women’s sport and the development of women’s rugby league as the first title sponsors of the Women’s Challenge Cup is hugely exciting for us – and combining the final with the semi finals of the Coral Challenge Cup should produce another great event.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the two competitions unfold through the spring and summer.”