Keighley Cougars will kick off their return to the Betfred Championship with a blockbuster home fixture against Featherstone Rovers – which has been selected as the first Monday Night match of the 2023 season for Viaplay Sports.
Following the success of Premier Sports’ Championship broadcasts in 2022, Viaplay will again be providing exclusive and extensive coverage throughout the 2023 campaign – including two games from the Summer Bash in May, and building to the Play-Off series which will again determine promotion to the Betfred Super League.
The Cougars surged to promotion in 2022, winning the Betfred League One title with a 100% record – and have made a number of eyecatching signings to strengthen their squad for the Championship.
They are certain to receive an early test from a Featherstone club who have underlined their determination to launch yet another promotion challenge by appointing the former St Helens and Great Britain star Sean Long as head coach.
That game will be played on Monday February 6, completing an opening round of the Betfred Championship which also includes an intriguing return for Toulouse Olympique, following their relegation from the Super League last season, with a trip to the Barrow Raiders who were such a success story in 2022.
Swinton Lions, who were promoted with Keighley, kick off with a home game against Newcastle Thunder – another club under new management in 2023, following the return of Chris Thorman to his native North-East as head coach.
Round Two includes Featherstone v Halifax, Widnes v Keighley and Newcastle making the trip to Toulouse, and concludes with a Monday Night game between York City Knights and Bradford Bulls at the LNER Community Stadium.
Betfred League One kicks off two weeks later than the Championship, with Dewsbury Rams and Workington Town both handed away games following their relegation from the Championship. Dewsbury travel to North Wales Crusaders, who have signalled their determination to mount another promotion challenge by luring Carl Forster from Barrow as player coach, and Workington will make the long trip to London to face the Skolars at the New River Stadium.
The 11 League One clubs will enter the Betfred Challenge Cup the following weekend at the Second Round stage – with Cornwall RLFC entering the competition for the first time.
The 13 English Championship clubs will then enter the Cup in the Third Round on the weekend of March 9-12 – with full details of the Cup, including First Round draw arrangements, to be released after the Rugby League World Cup.
The full fixture list for Betfred Championship and League One will be released tomorrow (Sunday November 13) at 5pm.
Viaplay Sports have announced details of 12 televised fixtures, with each of the Championship’s 14 clubs already guaranteed to be shown at least once.
Their third match in February will see two clubs fancied to challenge for promotion, Widnes Vikings and Halifax Panthers, clash at the DCBL Stadium.
The following Monday (March 6) will feature a heavyweight West Yorkshire battle between Featherstone and Bradford, and that will be followed by Barrow’s trip to Batley, the beaten Grand Finalists of 2022, on March 20.
Viaplay will show another derby between Halifax and Bradford on Easter Monday (April 10), before Swinton make their first appearance at Sheffield Eagles on April 17.
The cameras will return to Batley on May 8, a Bank Holiday for the coronation of King Charles III, for the visit of Widnes, and after Viaplay’s coverage of two ties from the Sixth Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup on May 20-21, two matches have been selected for coverage from the Summer Bash – Featherstone versus York, and Toulouse against the London Broncos.
There will be a repeat of the successful Friday night fixture between Newcastle Thunder and Bradford Bulls on Friday June 2, the eve of Super League’s Magic Weekend at St James’s Park, and Viaplay have also confirmed that they will cover the Cumbrian showdown between Whitehaven and Barrow on August 21.
That means all 14 clubs are guaranteed to be covered at least once – with more selections for June, July and August to be confirmed in the spring.