Underbank Rangers, the community club from Holmfirth who stunned West Wales Raiders in the Third Round of the Coral Challenge Cup at the weekend after making the long trek to Llanelli, have landed a fairytale draw against Bradford Bulls in the Fourth Round of the competition.
The Bulls, who enter at this stage with the other 12 English clubs from the Betfred Championship, have won the Cup twice in the Super League era, beating Leeds Rhinos in the final on each occasion, at Murrayfield in 2000 and in Cardiff in 2003.
They were Bradford’s first Challenge Cup successes since Bradford Northern won the game’s oldest knockout competition three times in the space of six seasons between 1944 and 1949.
Underbank have a considerable history of their own, having been founded in 1884 and graced in their early days by Harold Wagstaff, who would go on to play for Huddersfield and earn a place in the pantheon of the game’s all-time greats.
But this is the first time they have reached the Fourth Round of the Challenge Cup.
The same goes for the British Army, who have only been eligible to enter the competition since the ban on Rugby League in the Armed Forces was lifted less than three decades ago.
They have surged to the Fourth Round with victories over a trio of highly respected community clubs – Oulton Raiders, Skirlaugh and Ince Rose Bridge. Their reward is a possible crack at professional opposition in Rochdale Hornets – but only if Matt Calland’s team can see off York Acorn in one of the Third Round ties that was postponed at the weekend because of Storm Ciara.
Of the other community clubs still in the draw, Siddal will relish a home tie against the winners of another Third Round game that was postponed on the weekend between Keighley Cougars and Newcastle Thunder.
Leigh Miners Rangers have been drawn away to Swinton Lions, while West Bowling would earn a home tie against Doncaster if they can win their postponed Third Round tie at Workington Town next weekend.
London Broncos, who were relegated from the Betfred Super League last season, will host York City Knights in one of five all-Championship ties, while the 1998 Wembley winners Sheffield Eagles have home advantage against Halifax – who hosted the draw at The Shay after their stirring run to the 2019 semi finals.
Featherstone Rovers will play Barrow Raiders in a repeat of the 1967 Wembley Final if the Cumbrian club beat London Skolars in another of the postponed Third Round ties.
One tie will be selected for live coverage by BBC Sport – who have already shown matches from Skirlaugh, Wigan St Patricks and Rochdale Mayfield in this year’s competition – with at least one other match shown by the RFL’s Our League web and app.
Four Betfred Super League clubs enter the competition at the Fifth Round stage – Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR, Toronto Wolfpack and Wakefield Trinity – with the remaining eight, including the holders Warrington Wolves, joining in the following round in April.
The draw was conducted by Wilf George, a try-scorer in Halifax’s 1987 Wembley win against St Helens, and Nicky Chance-Thompson, the Chief Executive of the town’s famous Piece Hall and a former winner of the Yorkshire Businesswoman of the Year award.
They also conducted the First Round draw for the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup – with Halifax, who are to be promoted to the Women’s Rugby League Championship in 2020, drawn away to Nottingham.
The British Army will also enter the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup competition at the First Round stage and head north-east to face Durham, while the RAF will be at home to Keighley Cougars.
The eight clubs from last season’s Betfred Women’s Super League including the Cup holders Leeds Rhinos will enter at the Third Round stage, with the Final again being played as a triple header with the men’s semi finals at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday June 6.
Coral Challenge Cup, Fourth Round (ties to be played on weekend of February 22-23): Rochdale Hornets or York Acorn v British Army; Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams; North Wales Crusaders v Hunslet; Sheffield Eagles v Halifax; Workington Town or West Bowling v Doncaster; Bradford Bulls v Underbank Rangers; Featherstone Rovers v Barrow Raiders or London Skolars; London Broncos v York City Knights; Swinton Lions v Leigh Miners Rangers; Leigh Centurions v Batley Bulldogs; Siddal v Keighley Cougars or Newcastle Thunder; Widnes Vikings v Oldham.
Coral Women’s Challenge Cup, First Round (ties to be played on Sunday March 1): Durham v British Army; Wigan St Patricks v Whitley Bay Barbarians; RAF v Keighley Cougars; Nottingham v Halifax.
Byes to Second Round: Hull KR, Rochdale Hornets, Cutsyke, East Leeds.